September 26, 2018
Written by YouthPower
This article originally appeared on YouthPower’s website. Reposted with permission.
The ‘youth bulge’ offers great long-term promise for a demographic dividend in many African countries. Yet in the near term, the youth bulge is also a major driver of complex economic and social development problems. This study focuses on two interrelated challenges that are particularly urgent in sub-Saharan Africa. The first is the massive generational crisis of youth employment and underemployment, resulting from the large and increasing number of youth entering the labor force, which far exceeds the number of jobs created. The second is the threat of a rollback in progress on HIV treatment, with services in many sub-Saharan African countries under increasing strain to address the growing population of HIV-infected children maturing into adolescents and young adults. Effective health systems depend greatly on a sufficient supply of health workers, with the skills and experience needed to meet the health needs of the population. The current health and social service workforce is inadequate to meet these growing needs, and shortages are projected to worsen over the coming decades, especially in HIV-affected countries with the most acute and rapidly growing health needs. Globally, the WHO has estimated a shortage of 18 million health workers by 2030.3 South Africa stands as a prime example of the above trends.
Within this context, there is an imperative need to find solutions that can address health workforce shortages and provide economic opportunities for the large population of unemployed and underemployed youth, especially adolescent girls and young women. Accordingly, the goal of the YouthPower Action South Africa Health Workforce Assessment is to identify strategies for strengthening youth employment and career advancement in the health and social service sectors, through a study of conditions in South Africa. The goal encompasses two primary objectives: 1) to draw lessons learned from leading youth employment programs that hold relevance for health and social sector employment, and 2) to map and analyze youth employment opportunities and challenges within the health and social services sectors, with a primary focus is on low- and middle-skill jobs that may be most accessible to marginalized youth populations.
Accordingly, the assessment includes two parts: 1) a review of selected South African youth workforce programs that provide vocational training, career guidance, job placement, and/or related services for youth workforce strengthening, and 2) an analysis of youth economic opportunities and challenges within the South African health and social sectors. The program review included several youth workforce programs focused on health and social services employment, as well as a larger number that promote general skills and employment across a range of sectors. Drawing from key informant interviews (KIIs), a literature review, and secondary analysis of labor market information, the economic opportunity analysis contextualizes the program’s review and maps potential opportunities for further strengthening.
The YouthPower Action Health Workforce Assessment supports USAID’s complementary global strategic priorities of strengthening positive youth development and promoting human resources for health (HRH) for improved health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. Toward the overall goal, a key objective is to identify economic opportunities for adolescent girls and young women.