A Positive Impact On Training and Development

By Fiona Wakelin and Leonie Hall

The National Youth Policy 2020-2030 (NYP 2030) is cross-sectoral and aimed at effecting positive youth development outcomes for young people at local, provincial, and national levels in South Africa. It has been developed by the Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities in collaboration with multiple stakeholders; the Policy’s intention is to redress the injustices of the past and deal decisively with the new challenges the youth are facing. The NYP 2030 builds on South Africa’s first and second NYPs, which covered the period 2009-2014 and 2015-2020, respectively and is informed by various national and international policy and legislative frameworks including the Constitution, the National Development Plan and the Economic Reconstruction Recovery Plan.

To enable young people to develop and realise their potential, the Policy avoids quick fixes that divert attention from complex institutional and systemic issues and is not to be seen as a panacea for all youth development challenges, but rather as an advocacy tool that aims to ensure that across all levels of society youth development is prioritised. It articulates the need to accelerate implementation by scaling up the various interventions that have high impact; this will be attained by introducing new interventions, strengthening existing ones, and partnering with key players in scaling and implementation.

Commentary by Leonie Hall: https://keepclimbing.co.za

The National Youth Policy Power

The NYP states that the challenge facing post-school education is to find ways to assist the vast majority of school-leavers who do not qualify for direct entry into higher education or employment to gain skills. The priority is to capacitate current teachers and university/college lecturers in the education sector. Teachers need to receive skills development training to understand how SETAs and the broader policy environment can advantage youth development.

The Policy should prioritise expanding access to quality education and skills training programmes for young people. This can include multi-purposing schools as vocational training centres, empowering youth-led private training providers, as well as providing scholarships, bursaries, and financial support to ensure that young people have the opportunity to acquire relevant skills and knowledge.

It should include mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of training and development programmes targeting young people. Tracer studies tracking the impacts of education and training on improving livelihood security and wages should be prioritised.

These studies can help identify areas of improvement, assess the impact of interventions, and ensure that resources are allocated efficiently. By monitoring the outcomes of training and development initiatives, the Policy can be refined and adjusted to better meet the needs of South Africa’s youth.

Barriers To Employment: Promoting Youth Entrepreneurship and Job Creation

South Africa’s high rate of youth unemployment is largely attributed to the skills shortage in this age group. NYP 2020-2030 should encourage the development of entrepreneurial skills among young people and create an enabling environment for youth-led businesses.

This can be done through the provision of business development support, access to funding, mentorship programmes, and the establishment of youth-friendly policies and regulations. By promoting entrepreneurship, the policy can help young people become job creators rather than job seekers.

Using The National Youth Policy To Create Career Pathways For School Leavers With and Without Matric

Large numbers of young people have exited the education system prematurely and possess few (or no) professional or technical skills. About 60% of unemployed youth aged below 35 years have never worked. Without a targeted intervention, they will remain excluded from the economy. A multi-faceted approach is needed to strengthen basic education and reduce dropout rates for current students.

The NYP has to create viable pathways for school-leavers to access post-school learning opportunities, while directly addressing the lack of skills and work experience among out-of-school youth.

Training Strategies Must Be More Competitive

Skills development providers should use these factors to inform their business strategies and build leverage. The Department of Higher Education is pushing for increased funding allocations to TVET colleges. Training providers should consider evolving their business focus and using their comprehensive business databases and existing business networks at their disposal to tap into on-the-job experience.