World Youth Skills Day 2020: OYE pursues market systems approach in building youth skills

Plant growing from soil

Despite efforts of government interventions to curb the rising statistics of youth unemployment, employers continue to lay off their employees owing to deterioration of national economies, compounded by the impact of the corona virus pandemic. Unemployed and under-employed youth, already perceived lacking in skills and not credit-worthy by the private sector and financial institutions specifically, become the first casualties of major layoffs. As a result, their source of livelihood is minimized, accelerating their vulnerability.  Support in form of skills development (social and business), mentoring and coaching, access to capital and technical skills are now critically needed, more than ever, to boost youth (self-) employment and entrepreneurship.

OYE goes beyond skills training

OYE, a proven and tested market-based approach, triggers markets to work for the youth.  OYE acts as the matchmaker between skilled OYE youth and the labour market and is a systematic methodology that equips youth with social skills, business development, entrepreneurship and leadership skills.

It uses the unique PUSH, MATCH, PULL approach. PUSH creates a platform for internship and apprenticeship opportunities based on youth's interest and passion. MATCH points to the collaboration with private sector players, civil society organizations and national governments in provision of mentoring and coaching, access to capital, market linkages. PULL generates sustainable opportunities and networks that enable youth aspirations and businesses to thrive.  OYE goes beyond training and education, to match young people with job opportunities that give them a chance to improve their lives.

OYE is live in 8 African countries (Tanzania, Mozambique, Mali, Niger, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana).  By end 2019, it has provided (self) employment for an estimated 50, 000 young women and men, of which 40,000 have reached new self-employment (with 40% young women). In 2019-2022, we will scale up our work on creating job opportunities for 250,000 young people across agriculture, energy and WASH sectors.

Applying market systems development approach to build sustainable youth-led enterprises

OYE applies market systems development approach to identify and break barriers that limit youth entry into and inclusion in various market segments of the economy either as producers, wage earners, consumers or job creators through:

  1. Market scans with gender lens – Market scans help identify barriers, opportunities and how well youth are served and supported by market systems. The objective of market scans is to identify market entry gaps; youth skills gaps; specific barriers hindering women’s entry into the world of business, or wage employment, policy gaps and relevant actors and stakeholders in the youth entrepreneurship eco-system as well as merging market opportunities with aspirations of the young people; as described in the example of Zambia below.

  2. Selection, inclusion and gender – of 50% women and 50% while tracking attrition rates, especially among young women.

  3. Support functions such as training on social skills, business skills, mentoring and coaching services that trigger youth entrepreneurial curiosity and identification of market and business opportunities in communities where they live as highlighted in the case of GrEEn, Ghana below.

  4. Targeted interventions:  OYE intervention approaches are designed and tailor made to address specific needs of different categories of young people such as market entry, access to capital, scalability and sustainability of enterprises led by OYE youth.

  5. Peer-Peer learning and role models for inspiration and strengthening positive relationships among young people, especially women.  This is one of the best ways that OYE Champions give back to newer cohorts.

  6. Private sector engagement – OYE business cases exists that youth are good for business in core sectors and SNV OYE countries.  OYE positions youth as a crucial sector in the economy particularly in agriculture and renewable energy; stimulating demand and supply linkages; improved businesses efficiency, innovation, increased market share (their role as sales agents), and sustainability.  Private sector collaborates with OYE in provision of on the job training for youth (apprentices, internship, mentoring and coaching opportunities) as in the example of Zimbabwe below.

  7. Capacity building for local service providers for scalability and sustainability.

  8. Collaboration with financial institutions and local government in provision of youth friendly financial solutions and access to government grants for youth.

  9. Introducing a blend of ICT-powered methodologies and traditional farming techniques as in the case of OYE Tanzania to stimulate interest in agri-related job creation and employment opportunities.

Ghana: Building skills for youth during Covid-19

To mitigate Covid-19 and build resilience and skills among the youth in Ghana, our Boosting Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities (GrEEn) project has initiated a pilot training to assess the viability of virtual services in Ghana. The pilot is run based on three-tier course modalities/approach, namely:

  • blended version using mobile app and face-to-face

  • face-to-face course with reduced number of participants due to social distancing protocol

  • fully remote course

To build on this virtual opportunity, GrEEn launched an online call for applications to participate in this blended pilot of delivering skills training to unemployed and under-employed youth.  761 people (74% males and 26% female) applied.  The first cohort of 60 service recipients have been short-listed and training ssessions start mid July to mid-August 2020.

GrEEn project is a 4-year joint action being implemented by SNV Ghana and UNCDF. It is funded by the European Union through its Emergency Trust Fund for Africa with the overall objective of contributing to addressing the root causes of irregular migration by supporting sustainable and climate resilient local economies through the creation of green jobs and businesses.

Zambia:  Application of Market Scans for quality projects implementation and better impact

OYE Zambia, funded by SDC is currently undertaking market scans to get a better and holistic picture of available market opportunities in SNV's core sectors as well as identify youth aspirations and skills gaps that may hinder them from venturing into the world of business. The outcome of these market scans will inform quality implementation and enhanced impact of the INCREASE program in Zambia.

Zimbabwe: Our impact working with private sector companies

OYE Zimbabwe applies OYE’s Push, Match and Pull (P-M-P) pathway to empower youth with social and business skills.  To leverage on private sector linkages, OYE Zimbabwean youth are linked with host companies to gain on-the-job skills through internships and apprentices.  Youth are paired with mentors and coaches for guidance through this transitional phase.

OYE Zimbabwe, in particular, has partnered with private sector companies such as Recycle Today, Intermittent Energy, Solar Shack and Zonful Energy to assist in mentoring the OYE-registered youth while on the job, getting as much as possible in terms of experience.

Of interest is a young lady by the name Meggy Ben (24) who joined OYE on the 12 February 2020 and was trained as a Solar Shack agent. As an agent, Meggy has so far improved in her operations since the day she got engaged by Solar Shack until now. For one to become an agent it is mandatory that their communications and marketing skills are enhanced or improved. Meggy share the below testimonial:

“The project has helped me to become a better youth and with the skills instilled in me, I am guaranteed to be employable or to even employ myself in my own business.”

With the corona virus pandemic coming into play in Zimbabwe, it has presented many obstacles that have hindered many young people from achieving their goals, but not Meggy as she has the following to share:

“When I got trained as a solar agent by Solar Shack in collaboration with SNV, I was happy that I had taken ten steps forward towards my goal of being an entrepreneur but with the coming in of Covid-19, things started slowing down. However, one has to make it work no matter how hard the struggle gets. Survival is a must”.