With the recent elections in South Africa having taken place, it’s easy to see that sentiments are changing among the voting population since the democracy was born, 22 years ago. Studies on the matter are already conclusive: the majority of SA’s older generation still cast their votes towards the ruling party, whereas younger generations are split between the Economic Freedom Fighters and the Democratic Alliance. Current major metropolitan areas defecting to the opposition reflect these changing attitudes.
Apart from voter sentiment, other changes are apparent as well. Youth unemployment rates in South Africa are higher than in 1994 and currently worse when compared to its neighbouring countries, clocking in at a staggering 52%. Earlier this year, StatsSA published a report on the escalating challenges faced by youth in our beautiful country, with only 1 in 3 in the 25 – 34 age group classified as being employees.
Strategic measures to combat these figures have been implemented on a national scale, yet remain largely focused on fixing external issues. The National Youth Policy, for instance, proposes the development and implementation of more education, skills development, exposure to work opportunities and financial support for young entrepreneurs. Internal issues, however, such as low self-esteem, self-imposed boundaries and limiting beliefs, are not as prominently addressed.
It’s no wonder, of course, since limiting internal factors are hard to see, let alone measure. Yet, from a LifeXchange point of view, what you believe about yourself is as important, if not more so, than the circumstances you are in. There may be a banquet before you to choose from, but if you are convinced what you deserve is stale bread, you may not even see the options available on the menu! In light of this, wouldn’t it be better and less wasteful to invest in a process that focuses on raising the self-belief and resilience levels of young South Africans, empowering them to forge their own way, instead of the other way around?
When it comes to this, we believe mentoring is the answer. Take a young at-risk person, partner them with an older, unrelated and committed mentor and watch the magic happen…(maybe not right away, but give it at least a year). Not only will things shift positively on an internal level for the young person, raising a more positive self-image and a belief in their own abilities to accomplish, but the mentor will also add his own network and connections into the mix to help raise the mentee into sustainable maturity! Don’t believe me? The research speaks for itself.
Other countries, having seen the value of these programmes have already made significant strides. In the USA alone, 450 million dollars was invested into mentoring programmes in 2004, with millions more added annually. In 2015, 4 out of every 5 Fortune 500 companies have implemented mentoring programmes for new employees. Young people who had a mentor are not only 55% more likely to enroll in tertiary education, but also an astoundingly 130% more likely to hold leadership positions, as well as improved school attendance and a more positive attitude.
In light of these statistics and the global trends on display, wouldn’t having a national best-practice mentoring programme be a future worth fighting for?
by Esther Hamman