A Systems Approach – what does it mean?

For years, the practitioners who helped create this website have been chipping away at the monumental challenge of creating jobs for the millions young people coming on to the job market every year. The main thing we have learned is that piecemeal approaches to youth job creation don’t work.  A recent World Bank / ILO / RWI study concludes: Programmes that integrate multiple interventions are more likely to have a positive impact. Or, as one of our young editors put it more simply: “What we need is a pipeline – a structured system of support which puts us in a flow from entry into education all the way to a fulfilling job.”  That, in essence, describes the Systems Approach this website urges governments and donors to deliver at scale in their countries.

The supply-side pipeline

The Systems Approach starts with a push from supply-side actors: schools, colleges, universities, VET institutions, career guidance counsellors, the private sector and NGOs providing training schemes. Cultural traditions, family members, friends and individual young people themselves are also on the supply side, and all contribute to forming attitudes and mindsets. This booklet’s Changing Mindsets section (page 7) is crucial: policymakers must create or adapt the institutions and services that shape young people’s attitudes so that they can thrive in the world of work that lies beyond schools.

The demand side

Policymakers must also generate a pull down the pipeline from the demand side by making it easier – much easier – for youth to register start-up enterprises and find career guidance, apprenticeships and the financial services they need to start small businesses. Policymakers must also do better at skills-matching, ensuring the private sector is fully engaged in what students are learning at school and university so that they get the recruits they need at the end of the pipeline. Also, governments must adopt a multi-ministry approach to ensure that Ministries of Trade, Finance are engaged alongside Ministries of Education and Youth so that, for example, government procurement policies favour purchasing from youth- or female-led start-ups. Finally, policymakers must ensure that any young person starting an enterprise has access to a caring mentor as all our experience shows that effective mentorship makes the difference between successful, lasting start-ups and failure.

The goals and limitations of this Website

This website will introduce parliamentarians, policymakers, practitioners and businesspeople to the challenges of – and solutions to – youth unemployment. Specific examples already being used by a range of countries and organisations will be shown in case studies. For reasons of space, this Primer will be restricted to ‘mainstream’ issues: entrepreneurship, enterprise, gender, apprenticeships, career guidance, access to capital, mentorship and so on.  It does not attempt to cover other important areas such as jobs in the Blue Economy, jobs for the disabled, post-conflict job creation and job creation in fragile states. Any of these could fill another booklet – and might in a future edition.

Its main goal is to inspire you – whomever you are, and whatever authority you wield – to take one step. Whether at the family, community, national or international level, do something to raise the profile of, and investment in, this crucial area. As the Secretary of State noted in her introduction, the rewards of success in this field are immense, spanning the social, economic and political realms. The consequences of failing to take action are equally immense – in a very, very bad way.

Thank you for paying attention.

David Woollcombe, Lead Author – www.youthjobcreation.org


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