In many parts of the world, losing a job means more than losing income. Unemployment can sever economic and social ties, breed mistrust, and damage people’s sense of community and hope for the future. Young people in particular may turn to gangs or other violent groups to compensate for the lack of ties in economic and social life.
These effects are magnified in societies undergoing reconstruction because the lack of jobs among dislocated populations, including migrants, refugees, and displaced persons, can be particularly disorienting. It can influence status and identity, especially for migrants who had better or more prestigious jobs in their places of origin. The social effects of unemployment among dislocated populations may be especially isolating for people lacking family or other ties in their new communities. It can have implications for psychological well-being, as well as the ability to participate in civil society. Even migrants who find work may be vulnerable if their jobs do not provide adequate channels to integrate within the new society or if the migrants lack voice or information about their rights. Following are two innovative back-to-work projects that succeeded in post-conflict states.