Thursday 15 April, 2020, Johannesburg – Youth development lab, Lucha Lunako™, has released its Youth Development Reimagined Report, detailing a number of insights and key takeaways around how best to help prepare the local youth to succeed in -the workplace.
South Africa has always been the beacon of hope in the African continent, particularly due to its emergence from the draconian period of the past, to being seen as a reconciling nation with a powerful economy. However, the country is now gripped by high unemployment, amounting to a total of 32.5% in the last quarter of 2020, with youth joblessness – for those aged between 15 and 24 standing at a total of 63.2%, and for those aged between 25 and 34 amounting to 41.2%. Subsequently, the challenge of unemployment also means that the majority of South African population is living below the poverty line.
Despite this, South Africa has remarkable potential to grow and thrive. The country has a significantly large population of ambitious, vibrant and resilient young people. Youth hold the future of South Africa in their hands, and according to Alana Bond, Co-Founder of Lucha Lunako™, “Reshaping the development and empowerment of youth is just one of the approaches we need to deliver South Africans out of the clutch g of poverty”.
“The pandemic and measures to curb its spread have 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,” says Bond.
Overcoming those setbacks and getting back on track with youth development will require a new approach and mindset change. The Youth Development Reimagined Report by Lucha Lunako™, indicates that while significant efforts are being made within youth development, the prospects for employment and sustainable futures for youth remain disheartening. Furthermore, youth development outcomes and impacts are low relative to the investment being made in the sector.
The report also found that focus has been on providing youth with technical skills, workplace readiness and work experience, rather than looking at how young people are affected and shaped by poverty and inequality and providing 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.
In practice, youth must be exposed 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,” explains Bond. The report proposes a new framework that focuses on three core areas of development for youth. These refer respectively 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 are three constructs:
• I have it – the development of self
• You have it – a mindshift change to those around you
• Youth have it – the greater context of those around you and at work
The first step in their established youth development framework, is developing a sense of self and the belief in the self ‘I have it’. The second component involves a sense of community and those around you i.e. ‘You have it’ and then lastly 'Youth have it™' which focuses on development in the work sphere and broader life context. The main objective is to foster healthy relationships with self and others, understanding and appreciating others' feelings, understanding and appreciating other's experiences within their frame of reference, civic contribution and awareness, and having and leveraging social capital.
These elements involve embracing the community within which you live, work, play and learn, which is equally important to self-development and skills development for the youth. Within this category of community awareness and development, the ability to form a connection with others and strengthen positive bonds and relationships with people in various contexts (i.e., communities or the workplace) is vitally important. Beyond being important for their development, this level of community immersion also enables for instance 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 that is ‘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,” concludes Bond.