South Africa (17 December 2020) – While 2020 might not rank very highly on the list of years to fondly look back at for many people, optimism was rife at the beginning of the year with a commitment to youth development and employment programmes. Early in the year, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the implementation of the government’s Presidential Youth Employment Intervention that seeks to address the significant burden of joblessness among South Africa’s youth.
Sadly, this year has meant that the unemployment burden is larger than ever before with a recent study by FinFind and published in collaboration with the Department of Small Business Development. Findings show that the events of this year have forced the closure of 42.7% of small businesses in South Africa.
Ongoing interventions are vital in a country in which are 20,4 million young people that are aged 15–34 years (Q1 of 2020), and in which these youth represent a whopping 63,3% of the total number of unemployed people in the country.
In order to help ensure that the youth have the technical abilities they need to access work opportunities within key growth sectors like digital and technology. The Department of Higher Education and Training along with various SETAs [Sector Education and Training Authorities] created various opportunities for young people to access shorter courses for specific skills that employers in these fields require. However, there is certainly work to be done beyond traditional training and skills development, far beyond mere work-skills; the youth need 360° learning and to be supported in a holistic manner.
Helping youth development initiatives culminate in more meaningful impact While these training opportunities form a foundation to help create a better, brighter future for the country’s youth, there are things that can be done to ensure greater and more meaningful impact. Meaningful impact should be the long-term outcome of all youth development efforts and should culminate in the youth developing their own agency and their skills to access sustainable and decent income-generating opportunities, bolstered with the ability to build aspirational futures.
Approaches to youth development that work well are holistic, intentional and high quality. Long term impact comes about as a result of adopting a holistic approach to developing individuals with a focus on life-long development, rather than just a journey to a job. Psychosocial development is key, with the youth requiring extensive personal interaction from mentors, coaches, classroom specialists and other experts.
The most meaningful interventions are ones that help young people understand their purpose and become agents of change for themselves, leading to more positive and constructive growth.
This is where organisations like Lucha Lunako come in. Lucha Lunako is a youth development lab that helps build pathways to decent work through partnerships, collaboration and innovation in a way that encourages them to drive their own development and build their futures. In 2021 Lucha Lunako will be releasing the findings of their Youth Development Framework that details how the youth can and should be supported.
Creating more meaningful change will depend upon the government also leveraging from experienced partners from within the sector to better prepare the youth for the job market and to become the changemakers, business leaders and entrepreneurs that will drive the country’s development and economic growth needle forward now and in future.