JobStarter

Helping young people find their path in the world of work and post-school education

 
7.6 million South African youth do not have work opportunities, nor are they being educated or trained by the time they are 25 years old.

Dean and Lulu

 
We cannot continue to let our young talent pool go to waste like that.

7.6 million South African youth do not have work opportunities, nor are they being educated or trained by the time they are 25 years old.

We cannot continue to let our young talent pool go to waste like that.

 

JobStarter

Image of Johannesburg by Dylan Harbour, 2008  

7.6 million South African youth do not have work opportunities, nor are they being educated or trained by the time they are 25 years old.

We cannot continue to let our young talent pool go to waste like that.

What

JobStarter Mobile Education App

JobStarter is a mobile learning and career information platform created to address some of the structural barriers that undermine the potential connections between young people and post-school work and/or further education opportunities. 

JobStarter aims to be the go-to information, learning and opportunity aggregator for youth.

“Our most grave and most pressing challenge is youth unemployment. It is therefore a matter of great urgency that we draw young people in far greater numbers into productive economic activity.”
– President Cyril Ramaphosa, February 2018

Luthando Mzilikazi fell pregnant when she was in Grade 10, but did not give up on having a career. She went on to get two degrees and is now a Business Analyst at Allan Gray. Read Luthando’s story here.

Luthando Mzilikazi fell pregnant when she was in Grade 10, but did not give up on having a career. She went on to get two degrees and is now a Business Analyst at Allan Gray. Read Luthando’s story here.

Why

With 66% of the population under the age of 35[1]STATSSA. 2016. Mid-year population estimate., children and young people lie at the heart of South Africa’s untapped potential. Yet, more than 30% of young South Africans between the ages of 15-24 are not in any form of employment, education or training (NEETs); 46% of 25-34 year olds fall into the same category[2]The Department of Higher Education and Training. 2017. Fact Sheet on NEETs.. This equates to approximately 7.6 million young people out of work, education or training opportunities[3]Ibid..

Given the country’s worsening economic situation, if we do not take action soon, a significant proportion of our potential young talent pool will never have a decent job. While substantial, long-term action is needed to tackle the youth unemployment crisis, there are several key constraints we can address in the short term to help young people improve their prospects now. These constraints are:

  1. A lack of quality, reliable and relevant information to help youth navigate their next steps – whether it’s looking for work; discovering more about the job market; locating bursaries and tertiary education options; or getting a matric.
  2. The difficulty young people have in accessing work-readiness learning, and their ability to signal work readiness to potential employers.
  3. A lack of mechanisms for opportunity providers to easily source appropriate candidates among the pool of young people looking for work or work-experience opportunities.

At the heart of these constraints is the divided nature of our economy, in which the vast majority of young people may be able to access some level of basic educational opportunities, but remain disconnected from the informational and social capital networks that could support them to successfully seek work or further education. Not having these networks means that most young people face an impossibly tough reality when searching for work: they either cannot afford to look for work consistently (a recent study estimated that job-seekers spend an average of R557.98 per month looking for work)[4]Graham L et al. 2016. Youth assets for employability: An evaluation of youth employability interventions, Baseline Report, Siyakha Youth Assets; they lack the information necessary to make smart and strategic choices; and/or they have few avenues to help prepare them for the world of work, or to signal their work readiness to employers. Employers similarly struggle to differentiate between the thousands of candidates putting themselves forward. 

In his first State of the Nation Address in 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa recognised youth unemployment as our “most grave and pressing challenge” as South Africans. In response, he committed to creating large-scale internship, apprenticeship and learnership opportunities for young people. JobStarter sees itself as playing a significant role in informing, supporting and connecting young people to such opportunities.

Read more: Youth Capital is a campaign to transform the employment trajectory of a generation. On its website, Youth Capital illustrates the odds stacked against South African young people in their efforts to make a productive life for themselves.  

Dean Jates is an entrepreneur who knows all about trying lots of different things to make ends meet. His story illustrates how resilient South African young people can be. Read more about Dean here.

See how we can all support the resilience of young people here.

Dean Jates is an entrepreneur who knows all about trying lots of different things to make ends meet. His story illustrates how resilient South African young people can be. Read more about Dean here.

See how we can all support the resilience of young people here.

How

JobStarter seeks to overcome these critical blockages in young people’s transitions from school to work and/or further education opportunities through five key pillars:

  1. The development of a low data usage mobile and web platform that has been optimised for use on low-end smartphones and primed for zero-rating, so as to reduce the transaction costs of transport, printing, and Internet café use on young people.
  2. The aggregation of relevant information for young opportunity seekers from Grade 9 upwards – information that is easy to understand, easy to navigate, and importantly, that is accurate and up to date. Topic areas include:
    • Finding a job
    • Learnerships and apprenticeships
    • The workplace
    • Employer requirements
    • Getting work experience
    • Education and training opportunities
    • Bursaries, scholarships or loans
    • Getting a matric as an adult
    • Advice for high-school learners
  3. The development of free mobile courses (m-learning) to help young people with little to no work experience build their foundational work competencies.
  4. Connecting opportunity seekers with opportunity providers to streamline the recruitment process for both parties. When an employer has a job, learnership, internship or other opportunity available, they are able to log in to the JobStarter database to pull candidates who are most suitable for the role based on their core competencies and other criteria. This overcomes the often inefficient and ineffective opportunity search strategies that most young people employ, such as knocking on the same doors (too many young people with little to distinguish their skills or competencies); knocking on all the doors (young people indiscriminately applying for all available jobs); or not knocking on any door at all (giving up quickly due to high failure rates and the expense of looking for work).
  5. Develop meaningful relationships with opportunity providers to encourage them to use JobStarter as their platform of choice to identify candidates, but also to ensure providers are supported to welcome young people into work opportunities. This includes the development of an employer toolkit, outlining the mutual benefits of hiring young people, as well as their responsibilities as employers.

Siyabonga Mbaba is an artist from Khayelitsha who failed matric, but went on to start a non-profit organisation to support other young people: “I wouldn’t say I had a role model. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to start my own thing. I want to be the mentor I never had”. Read Siyabonga’s story here

There is a great need for the mentoring of young people in South Africa. Read more about how to support youth through the difficult transition to adulthood here.

Download DGMT’s mentoring/coaching toolkit here.

Siyabonga Mbaba is an artist from Khayelitsha who failed matric, but went on to start a non-profit organisation to support other young people: “I wouldn’t say I had a role model. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to start my own thing. I want to be the mentor I never had”. Read Siyabonga’s story here

There is a great need for the mentoring of young people in South Africa. Read more about how to support youth through the difficult transition to adulthood here

Download DGMT’s mentoring/coaching toolkit here.

Progress

Since its launch in 2016, JobStarter has enjoyed several major milestones – including the development of its website and social media platforms – to provide comprehensive information to young people regarding pathways to work, work readiness, as well as education and training opportunities. Foundational work-readiness m-learning modules and assessments have been created for Orientation to the Workplace, and Communication and Numeracy in the Workplace; and an employer portal has been developed for use by HR practitioners and opportunity providers.

Below, we reflect on a few key indicators of JobStarter’s progress to date:

1. User Profile

Recent research indicates that the greatest proportion of young people who are NEETs is concentrated in the 21-25 year age range[5]Graham L et al, 2016. Youth assets for employability: An evaluation of youth employability interventions, Baseline Report, Siyakha Youth Assets. The overwhelming majority of JobStarter’s users are concentrated in this demographic. In addition, almost 80% of JobStarter’s users across all platforms (including social media) are female, where vulnerability is concentrated.

Age distribution of JobStarter’s users:

Age Distribution 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34
Proportion of users 10.6% 54.3% 30% 2.8%

Most (88%) of JobStarter’s users have a Grade 12 qualification. While research shows that people with less than a Grade 12 education are more likely to fall into the NEET category, the second highest proportion of people who are NEETs in South Africa (3.8 million people[6]Department of Higher Education and Training, 2017. Fact Sheet on NEETs) have a Grade 12 education, and still struggle to access further opportunities.

2. User Engagement

By the end of 2018, 25 000 young people were registered as candidates on the platform. To become a ‘candidate’, website users are required to complete three assessments so that their profiles become visible to employers. These assessments comprise an ‘Introduction to the Workplace’, ‘Numeracy in the Workplace’, and ‘Communication in the Workplace’. Young people typically did not complete all three assessments, but in 2018 – through engagement and a targeted communication strategy – JobStarter increased the number of user assessments completed by 58%, up from less than 10% in 2017.

In 2018, JobStarter also managed to secure 500 employment/educational opportunities for candidates.

On average, users spent almost 17 minutes engaging with JobStarter courses. They also spent just over 2 minutes exploring information pages, which according to industry opinion is “an eternity on the web”[7]How long do users stay on web pages?. The Nielsen Norman Group points out that users generally do not spend more than 30 seconds reviewing a website unless it holds clear value.

While JobStarter provides its m-learning modules and other services for free, accessing the platform does incur some data costs on the user, as charged by their network provider. As such, JobStarter has tried its best to keep data usage as low as possible – it takes only 17MB to complete all the compulsory modules.

Read more: Zero-rating Mobile Services: An easy win that can significantly boost socio-economic development.
(A DGMT project profile page). 

 

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