UK government boosts opportunities for youth employment in South Africa

The British government will invest up to R1.3 billion of Official Development Assistance (ODA) globally on skills development, operating across nine fast-growing economies. In South Africa, its investment is dedicated to addressing skills gaps, skills mismatch, and quality training for unemployed youth and youth in Post School Education and Training (PSET) to align with South Africa’s priorities on improving technical and vocational education and training.


This investment works to increase access for marginalised youth to the right skills to gain sustainable work, move away from poverty and help position themselves for prosperity. In partnership with Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and implementation partners, the Institute of Plumbing of South Africa (IOPSA), the National Business Initiative (NBI), and BluLever Education, the programme aims to skill 200 marginalised young people for income-earning opportunities using technical skills. Additionally, a further 100 underemployed young people will be assisted in gaining a formal qualification, which will improve their earnings and career prospects.

This innovative approach to setting young work-seekers up for success starts with Harambee selecting candidates through the platform, based on the attitudes and aptitudes most valued in trade work. SA Youth is a zero-rated, data-free network that matches work-seekers to earning and learning opportunities.

“Harambee stresses the importance of partnerships,” says Sherrie Donaldson, Sector Lead Water and Plumbing, at Harambee. “When these partnerships focus on inclusive growth and mutual interests, barriers can be reduced, and sectors can create jobs to be filled by young people who would otherwise be locked out of the economy.”

She comments that the UK support has allowed Harambee and its partners to demonstrate that sector-wide collaboration can, and does, result in real impact on systems-change and effect which can be adopted at scale.

The partnership contributes to several of the UN’s sustainable development goals, not only the obvious ones like poverty reduction and quality education, but also gender equality. Globally, it prioritises women, and in South Africa, it has an unequivocal mandate to prioritise female inclusion.

The first cohort of trainees began their career journey in 2020, and now that they’re in the on-the-job training phase, the programme’s co-ordinators are receiving nothing but positive feedback from their employer partners.

Published on IOL