PREPARING the youth to succeed in the workplace would require a new approach and mindset change, says youth development lab Lucha Lunako which released its Youth Development Reimagined Report yesterday. Reshaping the development and empowerment of youth was just one of the approaches needed to deliver South Africans out of poverty, said co-founder Alana Bond.
She said that the pandemic and measures to curb its spread had been devastating in numerous ways. “Many studies, including our own Covid-19 survey, also found that the impact on the youth has been significant, many of them found themselves in greater debt, or without job prospects, study opportunities or internships in the wake of the pandemic.” South Africa is grappling with high unemployment, amounting to 32.5 percent in the last quarter of last year, with youth joblessness for those aged between 15 and 24 standing at 63.2 percent and those aged between 25 and 34, 41.2 percent. Bond said the challenge of unemployment also meant that most South Africans were living below the poverty line, but they had potential to grow and thrive.
Overcoming the setbacks and getting back on track with youth development would require a new approach and mindset change. The Youth Development Reimagined Report indicated that while significant efforts were being made within youth development, the prospects for employment and sustainable futures for youth remained disheartening. Furthermore, youth development outcomes and impacts were low relative to the investment being made in the sector.
The report also found that the focus had been on providing youth with technical skills, workplace readiness and work experience, rather than looking at how young people were affected and shaped by poverty and inequality. It necessitated providing a holistic, intentional, high quality development and support in the building of human foundations. “To bridge this glaring youth development gap, the report recommends more active consideration of proven best practices to inform programme design and implementation. Youth development interventions need to be holistic, and must be coupled with deliberate efforts to create clear pathways for young people,” said Bond.
“In practice, youth must be exposed to career guidance and possibilities beyond their frame of reference; different lenses must be applied to the problem of job creation and the potential demand for jobs in South Africa must be mapped out differently.”
The report proposed a new framework that focuses on three core areas of development for youth that referred to an all-encompassing development focus, starting with self, then others, then the broader work and life context. Within this I, You and Youth framework there were three construct: I have it, the development of self; You have it – a mindshift change to those around one; and Youth have it, the greater context of those around them and at work. Beyond being important for their development, the level of community immersion also enabled the youth to identify solutions to problems within a community and develop that idea into a viable, resilient business through which to employ some of their peers.
“Ultimately, we believe these three areas of development are the core elements for youth development beyond on the job training. These are the attitudes that truly equip the youth with the life skills they need to function and thrive in a modern civic society. Our core belief is that ‘the youth are not a problem to be solved’; they already have what it takes, and therefore development programmes should be designed to unlock their potential,” said Bond.
The new report comes hot on the heels of another report by the Anzisha Prize, the MasterCard Foundation and the African Leadership Academy this week, which suggested it was possible to create a million job opportunities by 2030 for unemployed African youth and highlighted 11 key entrepreneurship lessons.