The Southern African region (SADC) has a large youth population and low levels of decent employment for its youth, resulting in high levels of youth unemployment and underemployment. In South Africa, youth unemployment (15 to 34 years old) was 37 per cent in 2015 in comparison with an adult rate of 17 per cent . The lack of formal employment, irregularity of work and social protection means that youth in the SADC region face poverty and inequality. Researchers have described the effect of this insecurity on youth as a ‘transitional limbo’. Their future livelihoods and status as adults depend very heavily on finding decent work. Without a secure income, young people are unable to meet their social roles that accompany adulthood . These challenges are compounded by a lack of credible information and a lack of mobilisation around youth employment.

The project

The Southern African Alliance for Youth Employment (SAAYE) was formally established in February 2016. The Economic Justice Network (EJN) performs as the Secretariat of SAAYE. SAAYE’s vision is a Southern Africa where young people have access to gainful and productive employment that enables them and their communities to be lifted out of poverty. SAAYE aims to play a coordinating and facilitating role for youth formations working in youth employment across the SADC region.

SAAYE is made up of representatives from the nine countries listed above. Delegates elected a Working Group made up of six members who serve as the highest decision-making body of SAAYE. They also represent the Alliance and engage with the EJN Secretariat.

Planned project outcomes

  1. Profile of youth employment issues in regional and national policy platforms enhanced
  2. National governments progress and eventually comply with the youth employment provisions in the SADC Youth Employment Promotion Policy Framework (YEPPF)
  3. SADC and national governments reform regulations to actively promote youth entrepreneurship for both young women and men
  4. SAAYE is a well-managed, learning coalition capable of achieving its vision and mission

Two cross-cutting outcomes will influence the work of SAAYE:

  1. Understanding of policy frameworks that matter most for youth employment improved
  2. Mechanisms for youth participation at all levels of decision-making developed and implemented

Photo: Flickr CC Andrew Moore Johannesburg

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