Youth Employment Accelerator - Preparing youth with the right skills & experiences for the workplace
LEARNING PROGRAMME OVERVIEW
The YEA programme is designed to give recruits the skills and experience they need to succeed when they enter the workplace. Based on interviews with over 30 of Kenya's fast-growing companies, AMI identified a set of soft skills, technical skills and workplace knowledge often missing in new hires. These key skill gaps are at the core of the YEA programme.
AMI uses a blended-learning model with online courses complementing in-person workshops and team projects. Recruits will spend 6 weeks working full-time in small teams to do their assignments, work on projects, practice inter-personal skills, give and receive feedback and learn how business works. At the end of the 6-week 'bootcamp', recruits are matched and recruited in to entry-level positions in customer care and sales, and then supported over the first few months on the job.
What's unique about this programme?
Professional experience: recruits are treated like 'employees of the programme', and behave the way they would at work (dress professionally, ask good questions, manage time effectively, receive feedback, know how companies work)
Practical skills: Built around the practical business & workplace skills & identified as most needed (and often missing) in new hires. Specifically soft skills, professionalism, typing, customer service, asking questions, problem solving
Real-world assignments: Each week, recruits explore a different industry and learn functional skills. Assignments are given that mirror what recruits will actually be doing when employed (e.g. take a customer service call, sell a product, present to your boss)
Teamwork: Working in small groups of 4-6, recruits will learn to work collaboratively, receive feedback, review each others's work and provide peer coaching and support. They'll also learn to navigate challenging team dynamics and pressures.
Exposures to companies: Recruits will get the opportunity to learn about companies, positions and work-life in general through periodic engagement with partner companies (in the form of on-site visits, shadowing opportunities, etc)
Community projects: To both practice managing projects and teams, as well as work on something meaningful for their local communities, recruits will be tasked with completing a community projects with their teams over the course of the programme.
ADDRESSING SKILLS & KNOWLEDGE THAT NEW HIRES OFTEN LACK
Recruits will be learning the following skills to help prepare them for an entry level position:
- Finding a job
- Mastering your job
- Making the job a success
- Knowing your business
- Mastering sales
- Mastering customer service
- Managing your new recruit (for managers)
ONGOING SUPPORT POST-PLACEMENT...FOR RECRUITS & THEIR MANAGERS
Simply placing a YEA graduate isn't enough - to ensure that the new hire can effectively adapt to the workplace and learn to thrive in their role, support is offered post-placement in the form of coaching, additional training and peer support.
The YEA programme also believes that for new hires to be successful, they need to be well managed. So we've developed a short course for front-line managers on how to manage new recruits. This course will be offered to partner companies who hire YEA graduates, and can be enhanced with other management courses offered by AMI.
We are half way through a pilot for this programme. We've completed the training phase and are now working on placement. Initial feedback and data is very encouraging. 100% of participants said they would recommend the programme to peers and 89% said they felt 'a lot more confident' about finding a job at the end of the programme. At AMI, we interviewed 12 of them for 6 places on our new graduate recruitment scheme and were blown away by their confidence and competence. They were particularly good at the team challenge and presentation. Many said they were terrified of presenting in public before the programme but now felt confident. Almost half of the recruits are now in the job sourcing process - either at interview stage or waiting or feedback, and an few have been successful. We have several bulk opportunities in early 2017 and expect to meet our target of seeing 50-70% transition.
Once we have this data, we'll step back and think about what next in terms of scaling. We're convinced this programme is unique in its ability to generate real impact at very low cost. We believe we could reduce delivery cost to $350 per person at scale - a fraction of what traditional employability programmes cost. But we also want to pass some of that cost on to employers. Alongside placement data, it will be critical to gather feedback from employers on what value they perceived in hiring our recruits versus others. Can we capture that value and persuade them to pay a portion of the fee for future programmes? Once we have that data, we will be able to build a case for funders to subsidise the difference.
We also want to test ways to further reduce costs, for example by trying out self facilitation, and to increase placement rates by being even more responsive to labour market needs. Could we make future programmes even more targeted around a particular industry or role, making placement even easier? Or could we partner with recruitment firms to ensure jobs are available for our recruits?
And finally, we need to look at how we can reach even further to the disadvantaged. Our model will always work best in an urban setting, given the bandwidth requirements and the need to be close to high volume employers. But we could work harder to reach less advantaged youth, perhaps by diversifying advertising. Facebook was our most successful and lowest cost advertising channel by far, but with additional funding and perhaps some PR/media, we might be able to get the word out more aggressively to low-income communities, perhaps even running 'road-shows' with tablets available for participants to sign up and perhaps some facilitators for an impromptu session. We would love to try some of these ideas if we are able to raise follow-on funding.
For more information please go to http://yea.africanmanagers.org