Why We Exist
Ghana’s youth, defined by National Youth Policy as persons aged 15 to 35 years, constitute a third of the country’s population. They are disproportionately affected by poverty and inequality, and remain at the periphery of socio-economic processes and development structures, with little recognition as social stakeholders. In response, the Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana) brings together innovative and energetic development professionals to work with relevant stakeholders towards empowering youth both as agents and targets of sustainable development.
YES-Ghana is an ECOSOC-accredited NGO at the forefront of youth development policy, practice and research in Ghana. For more than 15 years, we have provided tailored skills training for thousands of youth leading to improvements in their leadership, financial literacy, entrepreneurship and life planning skills. Through our service delivery, we have provided education, skills training, and technical support to thousands of youth and helped them transition to self and wage employment. Our research has contributed to filling the gap in youth data and the evidence base for public policy. And, we continue to use our national appeal and grassroots constituency, through our Voices of Youth Coalition, to advocate and campaign for youth-inclusive policies at all levels.
Our Technical Expertise
Delivering Employment Skills
YES-Ghana specialises in helping young people develop function-specific skills, such as technical, vocational and academic skills, and accreditation for them, as well as employability and soft skills, such as the ability to solve problems, communicate ideas and information effectively, to be creative and to adapt to change. Our interventions have included retraining and upskilling programmes that provide skills development based on industry needs and combine training with job placement services. We engage public authorities and education institutions to design curricula and deliver formal education and technical training, including tailoring education and vocational training to specific industry needs by taking into account local perceptions and socio-economic contexts. We have fostered core employability skills in formal education through experiential learning for students, including internships, shadowing employees and field trips. We deploy world-leading curricula to foster lifelong learning through flexible training modules and programmes, with transferable certifications. We have a special focus on young women in all our skills building and job placement interventions in demonstration of our affirmative action in favour of gender parity in youth employment.
YES-Ghana’s expertise in fostering youth entrepreneurship includes deploying practical tools, such as real-life case studies, student-run business projects, and opportunities to shadow entrepreneurs. Over the years, we have engaged entrepreneurs as mentors in our education and training interventions. We offer much-needed mentorship to youth start-ups by facilitating exchanges with experienced entrepreneurs and employees. We curate networking platforms and co-working spaces for start-ups to foster collaboration and innovation. Through our interventions, we have created visibility and recognition for many youth start-ups and entrepreneurs, including through award schemes. Together with other partners, we have provided loans, grants and other incentive schemes to young women entrepreneurs.
Connecting Talent to Markets
YES-Ghana has extensive experience connecting talent to markets through facilitating networking, matchmaking between young people and employers, counselling, changing perceptions and ensuring the inclusion of marginalised and disadvantaged youth. We provide career guidance and job-search support to boost formal employment opportunities for youth. We facilitate access to job market information by leveraging organisational networks and youth perspectives and we close information gaps on vocational training and apprenticeships for prospective applicants through image campaigns and role modelling. Our hand-holding approach to placement support has enabled thousands of young women and men to gain employment over the years, especially youth from deprived backgrounds. We specialise in reintegrating youth who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) into the labour market through customised training and placement support, including by promoting flexible working models to keep young mothers and youth with family constraints engaged.
Facilitating Access to Youth-Inclusive Financial Services
Essential to YES-Ghana’s technical expertise in youth employment and entrepreneurship programming is a conscious effort to work closely with financial institutions to develop tailored products for youth. We have successfully facilitated youth engagement with financial institutions across the youth product development cycle. This includes making the business case, designing the product, piloting, rollout, and continuous review. It is the strategy of YES-Ghana to ensure that all project beneficiaries have access to tailored banking products that meets their needs. Beyond linking youth to financial services, YES-Ghana also provides ongoing financial literacy training to enable youth manage their personal finances.
Convening Youth Action
Underlying all of YES-Ghana’s work is coalition building – one of the organisation’s strongest competencies. Each programme is grounded in a coalition of youth and youth organisations, as well as partners from local and central government, civil society, traditional and religious leaders, among others. In the past, YES-Ghana successfully convened separate coalitions – Youth Employment Network, MDGs Youth Platform, Youth Network on Climate Change, Youth Platform on Oil and Gas, and the Youth Manifesto Coalition. But in the spirit of harmonisation and working as one to strengthen the youth voice, all these individual thematic coalitions were merged into one formidable ‘Voices of Youth Coalition’ in 2012. The Voices of Youth Coalition is a youth-led platform for advocacy and action for youth participation in shaping the development agenda in Ghana. It comprises young people of diverse backgrounds and regions across the country. Through this Coalition, we are facilitating young people’s engagement among themselves on shared challenges and opportunities, and creating a multi-stakeholder platform with various development partners for collective action. Supported by a directory of youth organisations across all ten regions of Ghana, YES-Ghana has become the nation’s foremost and most extensive youth development organisation.
At YES-Ghana our advocacy efforts are mainstreamed into all programmes. Advocacy is our way of demonstrating our results as good-practice examples of ‘what works’ in various aspects of youth development. The Voices of Youth Coalition is our main channel for broad base advocacy and campaigning. Based on two flagship products – the Ghana Youth Manifesto in 2012 and the People’s National Youth Policy in 2017 – the Coalition is continuously engaging policy makers and development partners through appropriate channels, with the view to integrating the recommended actions into national youth policy. Over time, the Coalition deploys these flagship products as yardsticks for measuring progress in specific areas of youth policy and national development. Thus, youth policy advocacy remains a continuous process for YES-Ghana.