NEW TERRAIN: Totally Youth Catches Them Young
Last year, the CEO of Totally Youth was appointed Chairperson of the National Committee on “Girls in ICT”. The “Girls in ICT Day” is an international day, celebrated globally on the fourth Thursday of April, every year. It is the brainchild of the International Telecommunications Union - ITU, under its Resolution 70 “Gender mainstreaming in ITU and promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women through information and communication technologies”. The Girls in ICT Committee operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Communications, to mainstream girls in ICT.
With graduate unemployment growing each year at the rate of almost 60,000 a year and the ICT sector being the biggest employer with the highest paying jobs, Totally Youth sees the national Girls in ICT programme as a “killing two birds with one stone” opportunity. The CEO of Totally Youth therefore launched the “Girls in ICT Weekend Club” in February this year, as her “member-project”. Under the Girls ICT Weekend Club, Totally Youth trains 24 – 50 girls every fortnight free of charge, at its premises using its own facilities. By April this year, Totally Youth had trained 160 girls in “ICT as a tool for learning and rewarding career and business paths”. On 17 April 2013, under the auspices of the Ministry of Communications, these girls competed in the first-ever (globally), Girls ICT Marathon, designed by the CEO of Totally Youth. Winners received laptops, modems and mobile phones donated by sponsors.
Totally Youth is “catching graduates early”, to help reduce unemployment in the future. Through the Girls ICT Weekend Club, we can ensure that more girls will choose to study ICT, go into ICT careers or opt to set up their own ICT businesses and employ more graduates. Totally Youth believes that this is an all-round “win-win” situation: reducing unemployment, mainstreaming girls in ICT and gender mainstreaming in employment and entrepreneurship.
OLD TERRAIN: Totally Youth Welcomes Participants
Since March, we have received three incubators – a group of four young men and one young woman, to set up an ultra-modern transport business and two young women to go into the beauty sector. Three interns have also joined us to prepare for careers in the financial, agricultural and education sectors. In April, we welcomed our first volunteer-intern, who is developing her marketing skills while learning office management and ICT4 Operations. All except one, are graduates from tertiary institutions.
All participants have been provided with free office space, free access to laptops, Wi-Fi Internet, Knowledge Space. They have access to free and regular mentoring, counseling, capacity building and assistance for proposal, contract, application and resume development as well as grooming for interviews and negotiations. The two Beauticians have free access to a furnished and stocked Beauty Centre and are already generating income. The income they generate is split up into living expenses, business tools acquisition to help them set up their own beauty shops and contributions into a revolving fund for inputs. Our radio and TV project have so far been limited to discussion shows which has increased the number of calls for assistance from so many unemployed youth, some of whom we have been able to assist in different ways.
Sadly, the job market here in Ghana continues to shrink for qualified young graduates. Most new jobs are seasonal (construction, road mending, farming, etc) for which most of our participants are over-qualified. Real new vacancies are so few and far between, they can be considered negligible in terms of the number of unemployed graduates (over 210,000). All the above, puts serious constrains on the finances of parents and guardians, who are forced to continue looking after one or more graduates for several years. This trend has caused a tremendous increase in our e-mentoring programme, since most of our participants cannot afford the daily transport and meal costs to come over to our premises. Participants lose out on practical hands-on work to acquire needed work experience.
The daily cost for transport and one meal now ranges from US$5.00 to US$10.00. TY provides such support to participants based on availability of funds, thanks to the generosity of our donors. Sadly, when a participant fails to alert TY while on the premises, it costs TY twice or more to get money to such participants at home, to ensure that they can start coming over again. It has therefore become critical for TY to start its Catering Centre as soon as possible. The Centre will provide transitional employment for unemployed graduates, capacity building and subsidized meals for participants as well as regular revenue for programmes.
Consequently, our major appeal this year is to request our benevolent and generous donors to help us set up our Catering Centre, which will serve nutritious and healthy meals to TY members and the general public and ensure higher impact and sustainability of our programmes. We already have the canopy structure of our Event Space, 10 outdoor tables, 30 outdoor chairs and 50 serving bowls. We will need a minimum of US$ 25,000 for equipment, service, operations and transitional internships for participants.
One unemployed graduate affects the financial health of both parents and siblings. Therefore, your support to one participant can stop at least one home from breaking up or can fix one broken home – minimum three lives. We can therefore not thank you enough for your continuous support to unemployed young graduates through Totally Youth. We believe that your support and the plight of unemployed graduates continue to encourage others just like you, to donate what they can to this noble cause. THANK YOU.