Create new connections to opportunity for young people


JobStarter is an online platform supporting young people to stay motivated as they transition to the world of work and study. The platform is unique because it provides information and guidance to young people with respect to self-discovery, educational and work opportunities; has modular online courses on job preparation; enables young people to build an online profile which could be downloaded as their CV; and seeks to equip and support young people to access further learning or earning opportunities.

The disconnect

This explains why the project exists
Around 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 young potential go to waste. 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 of finding work opportunities. These constraints are:
  • 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.
  • The difficulty young people have in accessing work-readiness learning and their ability to signal work readiness to potential employers.
  • 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 R1 000 per month looking for work)1Beyond the Cost: What does it really cost young people to look for work? Access it here:; 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.

The majority of South Africans are stuck in an inequality trap with wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. Most are stuck in intergenerational loops of exclusion with few chances to escape. Breaking this cycle requires a fundamental change in life trajectories, starting in the womb.

Think of a Möbius strip – just one twist in the circle allows you to trace a completely different pattern. Instead of being stuck on the inside of a loop, you emerge on the outside. In the same way, escaping the inequality trap requires a fundamental twist to set South Africa on a new path.

The twist in thinking

This explains how the project approaches problems

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The development of free mobile courses to help young people with little or no work experience build their foundational work-readiness competencies.

The trajectory change

This explains what the project is doing to make a difference
JobStarter has gained traction among young people with an average monthly utilisation of 80 000 users. Around 98% of them use mobile phones, while a larger number access JobStarter through a data-free app. The curated content has informed, empowered and inspired users on various levels. JobStarter has intentionally collaborated with youth development organisations to learn what impact the platform has on young people. For these youth development organisations, JobStarter has built an open-source tool which allows more development flexibility at no cost.
This platform tracks what their beneficiaries do on JobStarter, the number of times they log in, together with the information they share on the platform, which in turn enables these organisations to have insight into the needs of young people and provide support when needed.
Learn more on the Job Starter website: 

Trying to change life trajectories is ambitious and profound. It requires us to radically influence the lives of individuals and to be part of changing the circumstances in which they live.

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