The Learning Lunch podcast explores ideas, approaches and social innovations – creating opportunity for non-profit organisations’ teams to discover what others are learning and space to reflect on what these insights might mean for their own strategy and programme implementation.

In South Africa, young people continue to be disadvantaged in a labour market where the youth unemployment rate is higher than the national average. In increasingly tough times, unemployment statistics paint a bleak picture. Unfortunately, and counter-productively, young people are often blamed for their own predicament. There is a prevailing perception of them as lacking drive, optimism and motivation. But this could not be further from the truth.

Many organisations in the youth development sector are working to change these perceptions and unlock opportunities for young people. The sector is no short of innovation, but it lacks a unifying strategy to get behind. It needs a high-level plan of action modelling the key levers that will unlock possibility for young people from the individual level to systemic change.

This is where Youth Capital is making a difference by seizing an opportunity to build momentum around an ‘Action Plan’ for the sector. Youth Capital is a campaign that advocates for youth-centred and evidence-based responses to youth unemployment.

The ‘Action Plan’ combines data with young people’s lived experiences, and identifies the 10 key levers that have the potential to shift gears on youth unemployment. Youth Capital has the objective of framing youth unemployment from the perspective of young people, elevating their voices and experiences to shift gears on policies that can have large-scale impact.

In this podcast, we speak to Kristal Duncan-Williams, Project Lead for Youth Capital about their work to address youth unemployment through building coalitions in the sector. We will also hear from Sharmi Surianarain, Chief Impact Officer for Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, and Sandiswa Gwele from the Ukhanyo Foundation. Both Harambee and Ukhanyo have signed the Action Plan.

Kristal Duncan-Williams is Project Lead for Youth Capital. A Mandela Rhodes scholar, Kristal has a master’s degree in Public Health in Health Economics, and more than a decade of research experience across the fields of molecular biology, public health, and youth employment. She has an interest in research-driven advocacy and believes that making data accessible for everyone is critical to building an engaged society.

Sharmi Surianarain serves as the Chief Impact Officer for Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator in South Africa. Sharmi is a fierce advocate for opportunity and social justice for young people and women across the African continent, and is a keen analyst and thinker on the future of work. Sharmi leads on Harambee’s impact and systems change agendas.

Sandiswa Gwele is the founder of Ukhanyo Foundation, a project that supports a select number of young people to prepare for, and pass, the Second Chance Matric Programme. Ukhanyo is a signatory of Youth Capital’s Action Plan and their work has been critical in Ukhanyo’s approach to the matric re-write. Through her work in youth development, Sandiswa identified an urgent need for youth mentorship in township communities, especially those who fail matric and are left without support from government or NGOs.

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Explore Youth Capital’s Action Plan

Youth Capital Action Plan

Visit our Create Change page that looks at how can we build real and imminent possibility for young people. Here, rather than going for the big systemic changes like overhauling the education system, we look at what ordinary South Africans, in their personal and professional capacity, can do to effect this change.

Create Change for Youth
Human Factor 3

Explore issue 3 of the Human Factor that helps to weave a tapestry of tales about young people in South Africa, giving the spotlight over to them by featuring their words and their art. Specifically, the issue explores how young people develop a sense of identity in South Africa and how – collectively – young people’s definition of who they are is setting the direction for what South Africa will become.