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Accepted paper:

Exploring positive liberty and life skills for youth employment


Aniek Santema (Edukans)
Maryama Ismail (Edukans)

Paper long abstract:

While researchers and practitioners agree on the importance of training young people in life skills to increase their chances of successful participation on the labor market (Waigango & Mwangi, 2018), not enough is known on which program methodology can best be used in programs for life skills training. This paper seeks to analyze the role of life skills education and its impact on the employment of youth. This will be done by analyzing practical experiences with life skills training in a project to fight unemployment in Ethiopia, and connecting this to the ongoing research of Ismail on the effectiveness of the methodology that is used in this life skills training. Due to a lack of evidence-based research, little is known about which specific components of life skills education create positive impact, and about the experiences of life skills education in the eyes of learners and teachers (Nasheeda et al., 2019). The outcomes of the ongoing research of Ismail and the program evaluations of the ongoing Edukans projects, will be combined in order to contribute to the understanding of the importance of life skills for youth employment. The importance of life skills, and the way life skills training can best be designed based on the local needs and priorities in order to fight youth unemployment will be discussed. In addition, we will connect the above to the concept of positive liberty. Social and political theorist Isiah Berlin made a distinction between two kinds of liberty: negative liberty and positive liberty (Berlin, 2017). The latter is of relevance in this paper. It pertains to the human desire to be the master of their own life, be moved by their own reasons and not be affected by the outside factors. Employment is a pivotal aspect in shaping this positive liberty in the transitional phase to adulthood (Vranda & Rao, 2011). For many African youth it is practically impossible to successfully pass through this transition as a result of youth unemployment on a large scale that leaves them in an impasse (Cole, 2011). We connect this knowledge to Life Skills education: a breadth of competencies that enable empowered action towards a desired life outcome (Kwauk, 2017). In other words, enable positive liberty. Thus, we will explore in which manner life skills education serves as a measure to fight youth unemployment as to enable exploration of their positive liberty.

panel G41
Youth employment, knowledge and the labour markets; knowledge and society [initiated by Edukans with INCLUDE, ISCTE-IU Lisbon and Advance Afrika (Kampala, Uganda]]