South Africa is home to what is believed to be one of the worst youth-unemployment problems in the world. The problem could get worse, as the country’s population is young- meaning we have hundreds of thousands of new job-seekers every year.
Contributing factor include the difficulties many young people face when attempting to build their careers. In many marginalised communities, young people have no mentors and are exposed to a variety of unrealistic role model perceptions. As a result of this, the current status quo is maintained – leaving youth throwing away their dreams and desperately pursuing any income-generating activities.
It is this cycle that Activator, Unathi Jacobs, is trying to trying to change through her involvement in the ‘Outspoken Youth Initiative’ (OYI), where she is a part of the executive committee. The project serves to connect young people with different professionals. The mentors range from musicians, dancers, chefs, photographers to parliamentarians. This project allows young people to be exposed to a different range of professions and also impressions on how they can develop their passions into careers.
OYI is looking to expand the programme in time and operate throughout the country. Although sports and arts will be the main focus, the dream is to have every young person exposed to a mentor in any field. To achieve this OYI is also strengthening its own internal capacity by ensuring that there are professionals within the organisation, contributing to this.
The project is, however, not limited to mentorship. It is also used as a means to create awareness on a range of social issues. As Unathi Jacobs says, “it is through awareness of what is happening in one’s hood that one gets involved in creating social change”.