Major boost for UCT-led national Youth Explorer portal

29 June 2021 | Story Staff Writer. Photo Unsplash. Read time 5 min.
The optimised Youth Explorer portal now lists basic services such as healthcare facilities, education institutions and labour centres relevant to young people and available in South Africa.
The optimised Youth Explorer portal now lists basic services such as healthcare facilities, education institutions and labour centres relevant to young people and available in South Africa.

The Youth Explorer portal, an initiative of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) that aims to understand the “multiple deprivations” that young people in South Africa face, has received a major boost. The optimised portal now lists basic services such as healthcare facilities, learning institutions and labour centres relevant to young people in the country.

The Youth Explorer portal was launched in 2017 in partnership with OpenUp, a civic technology organisation, and government partners. It aims to grow a coherent understanding of the challenges that South Africa’s youth face in different geographical [areas]. The latest adaption is a significant step towards achieving that goal, and to ensuring that information mapped on the portal can be used to guide young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) in South Africa, in using the services available in their communities and beyond.

 

“A detailed understanding of [the] deprivation [in] various geographical [areas] is considered key to development efforts to support young people.”

“A detailed understanding of [the] deprivation [in] various geographical [areas] is considered key to development efforts to support young people. It helps to inform youth‑specific poverty and inequality interventions that aim to address these deprivations,” said Associate Professor Ariane De Lannoy, project leader and chief researcher at SALDRU.

According to Associate Professor De Lannoy, the portal is also an important tool for the Basic Package of Support (BPS) programme, another initiative led by SALDRU in partnership with various stakeholders, including UCT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Development in Africa, the DG Murray Trust, the Jobs Fund and the United Nations Children’s Fund South Africa.

The BPS targets young people who are NEET and forms part of the government’s current critical focus on youth via the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention (PYEI). One central component of the PYEI, De Lannoy explained, is the national Pathway Management Network (PMN), coordinated by the Department of Employment and Labour. The BPS forms part of the PMN, and aims to:

  • create more jobs and opportunities for youth in the formal, informal and social economy;
  • drive system changes that address barriers and support inclusive hiring and reduced unemployment;
  • link youth to opportunities and to support, inclusively and for free.

Strong collaboration

According to De Lannoy, the strong collaboration between the BPS, the PMN and the PYEI has helped to optimise the Youth Explorer portal to include verified data on youth‑specific government and other services.

This, she added, includes information on labour centres, schools and higher education centres, as well as social services like the South African Social Security Agency offices, National Youth Development Agency offices, libraries, and public health facilities.

“Providing verified data on service provision in a young person’s area is a critical component of both the BPS and the PMN. [It’s] an approach to help connect young people to the services and opportunities relevant [to] their own needs and unique circumstances,” said De Lannoy.

Augmenting the Youth Explorer

The redeveloped Youth Explorer portal means that youth, non-profit organisations, government stakeholders and members of the public will now have access to all this information. BPS guidance counsellors working with youth will also be able to use the platform to refer them to the available services in their surroundings and beyond. The data can easily be downloaded from the website.

 

“Optimising the Youth Explorer is a significant step towards improving the planning and implementation of services for youth in our country.”

She said processes are also in place to provide the relevant government departments and PYEI partners with access to the complete database. The information can then be used on youth-facing applications (and others) to ensure that those who need the information can receive it in multiple ways.

“The new version of the Youth Explorer now presents point data information on a range of services crucial to supporting youth, alongside data on well-being or deprivation among the youth cohort [in] various geographical [areas],” De Lannoy said.

The portal also illustrates where service provision seems unbalanced and allows for a first‑level gap analysis between the profile of young people in a community and the available support services in the area. Further, it offers an overview of what the youth cohort per municipality looks like, and highlights inequalities and challenges with service delivery in different communities per municipality.

“Optimising the Youth Explorer is a significant step towards improving the planning and implementation of services for youth in our country,” said De Lannoy.


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