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ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia - “I got ideas for a better life,” eighteen-year-old Tsegmid said of his move to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s bustling national capital.

Like many youth in UB, Tsegmid was raised in a nomadic family in a remote district in the countryside. His father was abusive and Tsegmid’s options in this environment were limited. Upon completion of vocational school, Tsegmid was faced with a choice: remain in an abusive home with few opportunities or take a chance and apply for an apprenticeship in the big city.

Tsegmid took that chance and earned an apprenticeship through the NGO Huuhdiin Urgoo. Huuhdiin Urgoo identifies underage, at risk youth and invites them from the western provinces to participate in valuable apprenticeships. With support from the UN Population Fund, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and Khasu Tsamhag, a local construction company, Huuhdiin Urgoo provides life skills education, shelter and on-the-job training for vulnerable youth.

“Professionally, there are limited opportunities for work experience in the provinces. The apprenticeship was very important.

I came to UB for the apprenticeship. I worked on a construction site in Zaisan (a wealthy district of Ulaanbaatar). First, I started as an assistant, but now I do everything – I finish interiors of buildings, run wiring and even lay tile,” says Tsegmid.

Tsegmid, like many youth at Huuhdiin Urgoo, gained invaluable hard skills in the trades alongside essential life skills such as communication, relationship building, and critical thinking.

UNFPA and the Government of Mongolia have established 32 Life Skills-based health education halls, similar to the hall established at Huuhdiin Urgoo, across Mongolia. The “Halls” provide young people with free access to a safe and enabling learning environment.

“I want to stay four years to complete my engineering degree. My dream is to start a private construction company and contribute to the construction sector in Mongolia. I want to be able to support my parents and brother to have a better life,” says Tsegmid.


“It’s not just a shelter, but education opportunities and apprenticeships. It’s about doing the right thing for youth,” explains Nordermaa, Director of the Huuhdiin Urgoo NGO.

Huuhdiin Urgoo and Life Skills Education Halls provide youth with a variety of learning opportunities where they can build strong communication and critical thinking skills and strengthen their decision-making and planning skills. Working closely with the Employment Assistance Office and the Ministry of Labour, Huuhdiin Urgoo is able to offer paid employment opportunities and shelter services to underage youth.

“We encourage our youth to have a social conscience. For example, the man going to study engineering at university, after he graduates, we encourage him to support ten youth like him. This way the social good expands further and further,” she said.

Private Sector Steps In

We want to promote young Mongolian workers to create Mongolian wealth. It’s also important to invest in the countryside by building local skills,” says Delgersaikhan, owner and director of the Khasu Tsamhag Construction Company.

To date, 100% of unemployed youth coming into the trades program at Huuhdiin Urgoo have gained employment or moved on to further study. This exceptional success rate demonstrates the importance of apprenticeships, life skills education and on-the-job training for young people. This program is also incredibly innovative because it creates direct linkages between training and private enterprise.

“My business believes in supporting entrepreneurial skills for youth. After the young people gain skills here, when they are back in the countryside, they can lead other workers, such as for painting and construction. They are more confident,” explains Delgersaikhan.

Despite an average economic growth of 10% over the past decade, youth unemployment rates in Mongolia remain consistently high. This employment gap stems largely from the fact that youth often lack practical experience and life skills. In addition to supporting programs like Huuhdiin Urgoo, UNFPA is advocating for the employability of youth by strengthening their soft-skills and an increased focus on youth employment in the Ministry of Labour. The work being done at Huuhdii Urgoo and other life skills halls is an integral part of UNFPA’s youth development programme that works to help youth take full advantage of Mongolia’s growth and development.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that is delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.