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Poverty Markets, NEETs and Development

Education and training organisations are uniquely positioned to address market shifts, opportunities and align with government policy to alleviate poverty conditions.

Diverse interventions can address market challenges, particularly those facing youth not in employment or education (NEETs).

Who is most affected by poverty?

Problem: What can we do about training and career development to shift vulnerable members out of poverty?

Stats SA  reported that the following South Africans are most likely to struggle in poverty:

  • children aged 17 years and younger

  • black Africans

  • females

  • people from rural areas

  • those living in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo

  • those with little or no education

Shaping The Youth Market

Where Youth Come From

Many South African children live in households where only a mother is present.

Does this have an impact on how we shape youth strategies?

  • In 2011, over four in every ten (41,9%) of black African children were in this situation, compared to only 9,9% of Indian/Asian children. 27,2% Black children were also in households where neither parent was present.
  • The percentage of children living with both parents was highest among Indian/Asian children (83,0%), and lowest among black African children (27,2%).

Career Paths

When you’re poor, even if you’re intellectually capable, the odds are stacked against you.

Learnerships, apprenticeships and internships – although dominated by black youth, many are from family contexts that cannot afford to financially support career development. These supposedly pro-poor interventions appear to be used as cheap labour models which become inaccessible to the poor. When these interventions pay less than R3000 per month, only youth with access to a support unit can participate.

The most vulnerable youth are unable to participate as they cannot afford to.

Youth often comment on my blog, Keep Climbing, complaining about the difficulty of surviving and meeting professional rigours on stipends under R3000 per month.

Most learners who complain are actually paid R1500, they feel stripped of dignity and hope.

NEETs and Business Development

Accredited training organisations must structure sales and product development strategies on current and relevant data. Two opportunities for organisations to research and ensure their interventions are relevant to target markets:

  1. Use data to inform the shape of products and services.

Finding specific information about target markets can be tricky. Many organisations make assumptions about the youth, where they are from and what they need.

As a consultant I provide clients with market insights they may not know or have not previously considered. Conventional and alternative sources of information can drive product and service design. Heard about the Siyaka Report? (2016):

…despite significant investments into the education system, learners from Quintile 1-3 schools (still largely catering for African learners) continue to achieve at far lower rates than their Quintile 5 counterparts (where white learners are more represented). Research demonstrates how learners from the lower quintiles consistently exit the education system and fall either into unemployment or are only able to access low paying, low skilled jobs.

…Quintile 5 counterparts exit the schooling system and transition quite smoothly into higher or further education and onto jobs; often jobs that have a clear pathway to professional and/or managerial positions.

If organisations only base products and services on assumptions and competitor actions, they’ll be unable to innovate and forge ahead of their competition.

2. Find data to determine market opportunities and competitive advantages

NEETs are young people who are Neither in Employment, nor Education or Training.

The largest group of NEETs are 21 – 25-year-olds, coming in at a massive 51%. 

There are nearly 10.2 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years:

33% are NEET = 3 366 000 (3 million 3 hundred sixty-six thousand)

What does this information mean to firms driving youth development?


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    SIYAKHA YOUTH ASSETS Youth assets for employability: An evaluation of youth employability interventions

    Gender statistics in South Africa, 2011

    Training Market Strategy and TVET Competition

    Managing 18.2 Learnerships and Apprenticeships

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