|By Elizabeth Bintliff, CEO, JA Africa
Africa is a young continent. Up to 60% of Africa’s population is aged under 24. In order for there to be continuous development on the continent in the years to come, there is a need to make sure the youth are well equipped to achieve individual and collective success. Intentionally guiding young people to the right path is key to their ability to own their economic success. With literacy levels rising on the continent, being educated is simply not enough to make young people employable or give them all the tools to be self-employed. In spite of the gains in education, youth unemployment is still on the rise. Giving young people a comparative advantage in the workforce requires the agency and involvement of more experienced professionals who professionals can invest to help equip a new cohort of entrants into the workplace with some of the tools and knowledge the need to be ready for success. What can you do? You can provide them mentorship, coaching, opportunities, networks and voices.
We need not wait for people to young people to attain a certain level before they can access coaching. Seasoned professionals can be intentional about providing this service by looking around them, identifying those who need help and coaching them through their learning. Identifying and engaging a young person can go a long way to helping them integrate into the workplace and provide an opportunity to learn or enhance their skills.
Being successful is also dependent in part on networks and connections. There is a reticence among today’s professional Africans either on the continent or in the diaspora to cultivate their networks for the benefit of other young people. Perhaps having lived too long with the reputation of rampant nepotism we have become leery of anything that looks like it, whereas the rest of the world operates on networks. Networking in a fundamental part of our tradition cultures. Any successful person will tell you that strong networks are an important precondition for sustained success. We need to leverage these networks for the young people we coach and mentor. We need to connect them to the right people, put them in the right places, expose them to the right circumstances and opportunities that they can stand on to make their great professionals leaps.
Critical to all of these are adult professionals who are willing to encourage, to coach, to mentor, to empower. Where do we find them? Just look in the mirror. This International Youth Day, resolve to hold a young person by the hand and guide them along the path to success.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.