EQUIPING YOUTH WITH PRACTICAL SKILLS AND TOOLS TO PRACTICE INNOVATION FOR GREEN JOBS IN MALAWI.

To get green innovation tools into the hands of more Environmental Youth champions in Malawi, Paul Atsu, World University Service of Canada volunteer at WESM Lilongwe branch as Communications and Youth Engagement Advisor held a Green Entrepreneurship Mentorships trains 22 Environmental Club Members at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources on 5th Octobers 2023 at their campus in lecture hall room 5, these training events, to place youth in charge of knowledge sharing and community development. The momentum of the WESM Lilongwe Environmental Club Youth Engagement Programs, powerfully demonstrates that youth are hungry for the right opportunities, practical tools, and supportive environments to succeed.

Currently, half of the world’s population is under the age of 30, with 90 percent of this age group living in emerging and developing economies and 50 percent unemployed or working and living in poverty. The aspirations and needs of young people, and their ability to meet their full potential, remain largely unmet due to stagnating economic growth and limited opportunities for advancement.

For most youth around the world, education is not easily accessible and, even when secured, does not guarantee access to quality employment opportunities. Critical thinking and problem-framing skills are indispensable for workforce readiness because they enable youth to reimagine challenges as opportunities in day-to-day life. An effective way to approach problem-framing is through human-centered design, which uses empathy to deconstruct problems. By using design thinking to understand problems from the perspective of the individual or community facing a challenge, youth have a better chance of identifying unique solutions that will meet those needs including their own.

From our experience with WESM Lilongwe Environmental Club Youth Engagement Programs, increasing the availability of innovation events and training where youth can access and gain experience with human-centered design tools will help mobilize them to address development and environmental sustainability challenges, and encourage social green entrepreneurship as a viable form of self-employment, This new Youth Engagement Programs initiative was designed by World University Services of Canada volunteer, Paul Atsu who has been assigned to WESM as Communications and Youth Engagement Advisor with support from the WESM staffs especially Temwanani Kalulu.

The WESM Lilongwe Environmental Club Youth Engagement Platform was designed for exactly this purpose, and we know that it is effective. The innovation and scaling tools and curriculum training are tailored to a youth audience, and the model relies on University student’s engagement to further expand its programs in Malawi.

Of the 50 participants since the WESM Lilongwe Environmental Club Youth Engagement Platform launched in July 2023, 50 percent would recommend the WESM Lilongwe Environmental Club Youth Engagement Platform to their peers, with many describing the experience as life-changing. As a result, we hope to engage more students in this regard from various university campuses in Malawi in the coming years as the M&E officer, Temwanani Kalulu also shared the key relevance and benefits of becoming a registered member of  WESM with the participants at the training yesterdays on the university campus.