The research investigates factors that allowed Guinean YALI alumni to gain or create decent employment in SSA despite the adverse socio-economic context of the region. The approach for addressing youth underemployment capitalizes on the findings of the research and the capability entrepreneurial framework to come up with a new approach for addressing youth underemployment in Guinea, and in SSA in general.
The research, a mixed-methods qualitative inquiry, deductively investigated the factors that allowed the YALI Fellows to find decent employment. The inquiry starts from a contextual framework of what is meant by youth, unemployment, decent work, economic neoliberalism, and the capability approach. Then follows a literature review on the causes of unemployment and the approaches thought to be the best or those most tried for creating employment opportunities for youth in Guinea and in SSA in general. Based on the conceptual framework, the literature review, and my personal experience with the research topic, I came up with the following two complementary hypotheses: a. given the adverse socio-economic environment in SSA, it would be the exceptional personal capacities that would allow the Guinean YALI Fellows to gain decent employment; and b. given the lack of appropriate resources, it would take Guinean YALI Fellows more than regular effort to develop their personal and interpersonal capacities. These hypotheses were tested through a survey and semi-structured interviews. The study found that the key factors that allowed the participants to gain decent employment were: 1) aspiration for making a difference in one's life or community, 2) making more than regular effort for education and for networking, and 3) developing strong personal characters. In general, the findings of my research supported the hypotheses.
To formulate the youth decent employment approach in this paper, I combined the capability entrepreneurial framework by Dejaeghere & Baxter (2013) and the lessons learned from this research. While the framework addresses how individuals’ endowments (skills and resources) can be turned into capability (opportunity to do or be something) and then functioning (what people end up being or doing), the lessons learned from my research findings give a road map on how youth can develop skills as an endowment as did the Guinea YALI Fellows. In other words, my findings contribute to the endowments necessary for a wide range of capabilities. In the proposal, I first demonstrate the importance and ways of creating aspiration, developing strong personal character in youth, and inspiring young people to make more than regular effort given the adversities of their environment. Secondly, using the capability framework, I explain how a group of youth can seek the support of their household and community to successfully mediate the risks and constraints related to their entrepreneurial project.