Generation Unlimited’ expands digital learning and work skills opportunities for young people in South Africa

UNICEF, UNDP, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, Future Africa at University of Pretoria, SuperSport Let’s Play, Afrika Tikkun join forces with young people to reimagine a better future post COVID-19.

PRETORIA, 15 July 2020 – UNICEF, UNDP and partners today announced the expansion of the ‘Generation Unlimited’ initiative on World Youth Skills Day to empower young people and provide the education and relevant skills they need to transition into their working lives.

The growing partnership includes UNICEF, UNDP, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, Future Africa at University of Pretoria, SuperSport Let’s Play, and Afrika Tikkun. The initiative comes at a critical time, with the COVID-19 pandemic having a multi-dimensional impact on young people, education and employment opportunities.

“Tapping the energy of young people is critical to building a fairer and better South Africa,” said Jama Gulaid, UNICEF Representative to South Africa. “The Generation Unlimited partnership can help provide the relevant and holistic skills that young people need to access decent work opportunities and to fulfil their goals.”

“A healthy economy is driven by a healthy nation and COVID-19 is a threat to both,” said Dr Ayodele Odusola, Resident Representative, UNDP South Africa. “The opportunity is to maximise the role and potential of young people to help the nation respond and to draw on and build resilience in this time of crisis.”

A recent national survey conducted with more than ten thousand young people aged 18 to 35-years, through UNICEF’s U-Report SMS platform, showed how COVID-19 and the related lockdown led to multiple and abrupt shocks in young people’s lives. The findings (below) also highlighted inequalities in access to digital learning and skills opportunities.

  • Only 11% of young people reported access to a laptop and Internet
  • 41% of respondents reported access to a smartphone but only 17% with a data bundle to connect
  • 41% highlighted the need for information on skills and training opportunities

The inequalities in digital access highlight the urgent need to invest in connectivity and remote learning to ensure every student, particularly the most vulnerable, has access to a wide range of educational opportunities. Many young people are disconnected from digital solutions that could dramatically improve their lives.

The Generation Unlimited initiative aligns with the Government’s National Youth Policy 2020-2030 and focuses on three key areas: secondary-age education; skills for learning, employability and decent work; and empowerment – including tackling misinformation that can so influence young people’s lives. The new interventions for and with young people will help to develop skills that are key to expanding access to digital knowledge and jobs, entrepreneurship and meaningful work.

UNICEF and UNDP continue to work with partners to respond to the needs of young people and aim to expand this partnership to reach as many young people as possible.

Generation Unlimited – which forms part of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Youth 2030 Strategy – complements and builds on existing programmes that support adolescents and young people.

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere to build a better world for everyone.

For more information, please contact:
Sudeshan Reddy, UNICEF South Africa, Tel: +27 82 561 3970, sureddy@unicef.org

About UNDP

UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet.

For more information, please contact:
Rhulani Lelohka, UNDP South Africa, Tel: +27 82 561 3970, rhulani.lehloka@undp.org

About Future Africa at University of Pretoria

Future Africa is set to inspire science excellence to transform Africa through the efforts of a growing network of leading scientists and exceptional young talent. To have a substantive impact on the pressing issues facing society, such as COVID-19, Future Africa’s value proposition is to strengthen networks and, mobilise human capital and talent to generate integrated knowledge that matters to society.

About Afrika Tikkun

Afrika Tikkun’s vision is to enable young people to become economically empowered. This vision is implemented through a Cradle to Career 360° model across under-resourced communities in South Africa.  Afrika Tikkun’s offerings comprises of a unique set of programmes and support services designed to counter the effects of poverty and inequality whilst actively working towards the reduction of youth unemployment in a sustainable manner. 

About SuperSport Let’s Play

SuperSport is an integral part of Africa’s sporting fabric and contributes to sport in various ways and is one of the primary benefactors of sport on the continent. SuperSport is committed to being a responsible and contributing corporate citizen and through the Let’s Play programme, has been at the forefront for more than 14 years in the drive for a healthier generation of young people. Through Let’s Play, young children from 8 to 14 years have benefited from a variety of sporting activities and programmes in a fun and engaging manner. Besides encouraging an active lifestyle, Let’s Play is also at the forefront of the battle against rising childhood obesity levels; inactivity and the resultant social ills confronting young people in various communities.

About Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator

Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator is a not-for-profit social enterprise with extensive experience of building solutions and innovations aimed at solving the youth unemployment challenge in South Africa. We partner with business, government, young people and many other partners who are committed to results that can work at scale. Visit Harambee.co.za to find out more. 

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