Promising Practices from National Youth Service Programmes

National youth service programmes typically incorporate a strong element of learning in the form of skills training and experiential learning through service. This makes these programmes well suited to promoting positive youth development and creating alternative pathways to increased employability. The national scope of such programmes means that they have the potential to reach large numbers of youth from a diversity of backgrounds.

The 2013 study showed that national youth service programmes have the potential to facilitate these outcomes in the following ways:

  • 1. National youth service programmes can provide young people with technical skills or qualifications that increase their employability or chances of self-employment.
  • 2. National youth service programmes provide opportunities for experiential learning and practical experience that may be difficult to access otherwise.
  • 3. The emphasis on service and citizenship means that national youth service is suited to building confidence, competence, character and connectedness and other ‘soft skills’ that contribute to employability and successful entrepreneurship.
  • 4. Programmes that promote active citizenship have the potential to produce well- rounded, socially responsible work seekers.
  • 5. Stipends can promote financial asset accumulation and improve young people’s ability to manage their money.
  • 6. National youth service programmes can actively link young people to exit (work or further study) opportunities.
  • 7. They can also either provide or link young people to financial support for developing future livelihood opportunities.
  • 8. Partnerships and coordination can be structured at a national level, introducing opportunities to scale up impact.
  • 9. Flexible recruitment strategies can support positive transition outcomes for different groups, including particularly vulnerable youth.
  • 10. National youth service programmes can align youth development with economic growth priority areas, and so increase young people’s chances of accessing employment.

Each of these points is discussed in more detail in the next section, and we provide examples from the study of how some national programmes are doing this in practice.

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