As we nationally commemorate youth this month, the Western Cape Government has developed an innovative Youth Service Programme, YearBeyond, which provides youth between the ages of 18 and 25 an opportunity to gain meaningful work experience, build their work readiness skills and CV while giving back to their communities.
The largest programme places youth in schools as teacher assistants during the day and assisting learners who are struggling academically with literacy and maths after school. The province has 399 youth in service.
Over the last five years the Western Cape government has developed and refined its 10-month youth service programme. In the process we have learnt:
- Youth want to make a difference and simply need the opportunity to give back. It is therefore essential that the work they are doing is meaningful so they feel they are making a difference
- It is critical to engage youth soon after they become NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training), as the longer youth are part of the ranks of the NEETS, the less their chances of ever working. Therefore, the Western Cape Government focuses on youth under 25.
- Drawing local youth from the communities in which they will be working is key – people in a community are known which assists with safety issues as they also understand their community and know how to navigate the risks.
- Building work fitness takes time. Youth often struggle after the initial 6-months honeymoon with work. Navigating this stumbling block is often key to long term employment success. Our YearBeyond programme therefore provides a 10-month opportunity to youth.
- Young people need to be supported to learn the skills of work and resilience. YearBeyond therefore provides every youth with a mentor to support them in their work readiness journey. These mentors meet face to face or virtually with the youth week to talk about what they are learning.
- Work readiness is a combination of soft and hard skills. Training in a combination of these are built into the experience. For example, time-management, self-discipline and communication along with listening skills and training to build their self-worth.
An impact study of YearBeyond over the year found that over 80% of Alumni feel prepared for the work of work, 85% felt comfortable in their interviews and 82% went on to study or work at the end of the year of service. Finally, 47% of youth continue to actively volunteer in their community’s post YearBeyond.
Mbuyi Yanta (28), 2016 Yeboneer, Mindfulness practitioner, coach and trainer
"I encourage everyone to become a volunteer. It is very difficult to find a job. The YearBeyond programme teaches you how to apply yourself and show up. You have to be active and aware to take advantage of the opportunities, not just collect a stipend and have a nice time."
Devarna Booysen (26), 2018 YeBoneer, currently studying to become a teacher
"The best thing was interacting and building relationships with the learners. We all need someone who cares about us, and our futures. It was great to be that person for the learners. It makes you step up and do better for them and for yourself too."
Nkhulu Gugu (27), 2018 volunteer, iKasi Tutors business owner
"I advise people to volunteer to learn new skills. It shows you a new world and helps you to find your passion – what you love and don’t love in life. It helped me develop my own business and get sustainable income."
Louwina Bendie (21), 2017 YeBoneer, pharmacy assistant.
"YearBeyond was amazing. I made new friends and learnt what it is like to work. I never knew it was that difficult! After the programme I got a bursary to study, but I would not have had the confidence to even go for the interview if I hadn’t done YearBeyond."