Opportunity: Youth

A young woman sits outside with two young men Frontline AIDS/Peter Caton/2019

Key information

  • Organisation: NACOSA
  • Country: South Africa
  • Region: Eastern and southern Africa
  • Stage of innovation: Stage 4: Go-to-market strategy developed
  • Start date: Jun 2019
  • End date: Dec 2019
  • Type of innovation: Conceptual innovation: new ways of looking at problems, challenging assumptions, or both
  • Budget: US$14,000
  • Funder: Frontline AIDS

Summary of intervention

Many adolescents and young people from marginalised communities experience low self-worth, leave school early and lack skills and education opportunities. This can lead to transactional sex and other high-risk behaviours, particularly for adolescent girls and young women, resulting in high rates of HIV, STIs and unwanted pregnancies.

NACOSA’s Opportunity: Youth creates partnerships with skills training agencies, government and employers to provide training and employment opportunities in the health and welfare sector for unemployed young people (particularly young women) affected by HIV.

Participants are offered training and work placements in areas such as child and youth care, health promotion, social work and HIV testing. Young people are appropriately matched, prepared for employment and placed in jobs at the end of the process. Participants include young people living with HIV and people from marginalised communities.

The model works by investigating what skills gaps exist then working with the government’s Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) to apply for (funded) learnerships on behalf of the young people recruited. The model will generate sustainable income for NACOSA as well as responding to South Africa’s skills development needs.


  • Accreditation and unlocking funding can take longer than anticipated so it is good to apply to multiple schemes at once.
  • It is important to provide ‘readiness’ training to ensure young people complete their training or stay in their job.
  • Companies can be reluctant to provide funded employment opportunities for young people, so it is good to highlight the tax and employment equity benefits.
  • To address access issues, NACOSA has developed an affordable and accredited e-platform to offer online trainings. The scheme combines face-to-face and online training.

next steps

  • Other employment opportunities will be investigated, based on South Africa’s current businesses needs.
  • The scheme will be documented so it can be replicated and scaled-up by other Frontline AIDS partners or civil society organisations.


The model has been designed to generate a sustainable income for the NACOSA Training Institute as the key training provider and broker of employment opportunities. As such it will pay its own way. NACOSA will receive funding for the training from SETA so that the young people do not have to pay. It will also seek funding from businesses to further support the initiative.