The release of the 2015-2016 MasterCard Foundation Youth Think Tank Report is the culmination of ten months of effort from our Youth Think Tank participants. These are dedicated, committed young researchers who take their responsibilities seriously and now join an alumni network of close to 30 members across Africa. It also represents the efforts and commitment of Restless Development and the Foundation to the meaningful engagement of young people.
Since its inception in 2011, the Youth Think Tank has evolved. Through our partnership, we’ve increased the number of young researchers, deepened the scope and extended the duration of the research.
The Youth Think Tank research process demonstrates the value of engaging young researchers to better understand the aspirations and challenges their peers face in acquiring key skills, securing employment, starting and growing businesses and transitioning into the labour market.
The findings from the 2015-2016 Youth Think Tank Report add to a growing body of research from the Foundation, our partners and other key stakeholders about the challenges of informal, precarious work, the miss-match between the skills young people acquire in school and the demands of the labour market and the associated challenges of both urban and rural work. The report also illustrates that young people are keen to participate in the decisions and policies that impact their lives and can give practical, valuable advice on how to make youth and employment policies and programs more impactful.
As the Youth Think Tank Members have gone through the process of developing research questions and conducting field research with young people, government officials and members of civil society within their communities across East Africa, they have been setting an important example of youth leadership. In addition to the research findings, the Youth Think Tank members demonstrate the role that young people can play in identifying solutions to the challenges they face, and in informing programming and policies that affect youth.
The work of the Youth Think Tank does not end with the launch of this report. Youth Think Tank members will share the findings with peers and key stakeholders, and Restless Development is finalizing a youth engagement audit tool for civil society organizations interested in meaningfully working with young people within their organizations, as well as a youth-led research toolkit. In addition, an alumni strategy will be developed to ensure engagement and networking continues among Youth Think Tank members, well beyond the completion of their research.
The MasterCard Foundation and Restless Development are committed to listening to young people – their voices and perspectives are not only integral to our programs and partnerships, but also the key to unlocking Africa’s potential.