Actively Link Young People to Exit Opportunities (Work or Further Study)
A key drawback for young people is that many lack access to the social networks and information needed to find employment or self-employment opportunities. National youth service programmes can support youth indirectly by providing information on how to search for jobs or access entrepreneurial support or further education; or more directly by actively linking youth to work, further training or self-employment opportunities.
Where national youth service programmes partner with civil society organisations and private companies, service placements increase young people’s work contacts and can potentially lead to participants being retained as employees. For example, the Ghana National Service Scheme focuses primarily on placing participants in the education sector and provides opportunities for participants to enter the teaching profession after the period of service. Some programmes partner with local or national placement agencies to link youth to work opportunities. In Mali, for instance, young participants are referred to various national placement agencies which provide support in finding a job. Others have developed job placement officer posts within the programme or interact with the private sector on behalf of participants. In South Africa, an early iteration of the YouthBuild programme employed a job placement officer to search for potential job opportunities for the participants. Some youth service programmes in South Africa spoke of developing personal development or career development plans with participants, assisting them to identify the steps they need to achieve their goals. The programme in Ghana negotiates with companies on behalf of the participants for placement opportunities once participants have completed their service.
Respondents from the programmes in Zimbabwe and Liberia reported incorporating elements of mentoring and coaching into their programmes. This is an area that merits more attention in the future, particularly in the trades or for young people who are trying to start their own businesses.