Basic Package of Support: Reaching Proof of concept

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The Basic Package of Support (BPS) for young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) is an evidence-based intervention to promote the social and economic inclusion of young people who have been disconnected from the labour market and from training opportunities, and who face multiple deprivations and exclusion from a range of other services and opportunities.

The BPS strives to provide young people with a sense of possibility and supports their agency in taking up pathways towards sustainable livelihoods. It does this by (a) working with local service providers in a community of practice (COP) to strengthen service delivery to young people and (b) implementing a youth-facing intervention. In turn, it is expected that young people will show increased well-being, navigational capacities, and employability through the intervention.

The BPS has been through three phases of development: (a) initial concept and design, (b) preparation for the pilot, and (c) a pilot to reach proof of concept.

Having achieved the proof of concept, the BPS is now entering an incubation phase, characterised by improvements through ongoing learning and preparation for scale.


The BPS model to support and activate NEET youth in South Africa

The BPS programme aims to provide young people aged 18–25 who are NEET with enhanced life outcomes by proactively reaching out and offering them well-targeted, multi-faceted transition support that responds to their individual needs. The programme aims to strengthen a young person’s agency while clarifying pathways to (re)connection.

The BPS programmatic intervention has two key components:

1. A youth-facing intervention that:

  • Proactively reaches out to young people aged 18–25 years who are NEET.
  • Provides customised guidance through a trained youth coach.
  • Connects young people to services to overcome barriers in their lives.
  • Connects young people to opportunities best suited to their longer-term plan.
  • Follows up and continues to support young people as they plan their next step.

2. A local service-system strengthening intervention that:

  • Engages local service providers in a community of practice (COP).
  • Ensures that they understand the multiplicity of young people’s needs.
  • Problem solves with local service providers to improve service delivery.
  • Promotes better coordination and articulation between existing services, forums and interest groups to ensure that young people are not ‘falling through the cracks’.

The success of the youth-facing intervention depends on providing several core building blocks, including guidance counselling, a form of assessment, the development of an action plan together with the young person that sets out long-term life goals and the steps to be taken to reach those goals, active referral to the services needed to enable youth to take those steps, and a strong follow-up and loop-back system that keeps young people engaged over extended periods of time.

The programmatic intervention is also firmly rooted in providing and building a local COP of service providers that strives to work collaboratively to improve service delivery and opportunities to avoid the ongoing exclusion and disconnection of young people. In this way, the programme seeks not to duplicate but rather to enhance existing services and to ensure that young people can connect to the services that they need to address the range of barriers that they face.


Pilot implementation phase

The pilot implementation phase began in early 2022, led by SALDRU at the University of Cape Town, the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA, University of Johannesburg) and DG Murray Trust (DGMT).[1] This applied phase has been undertaken in collaboration with previous and new partners, including the National Pathway Management Network (NPMN) of the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention (PYEI), to ensure that the BPS is integrated into the national initiative that aims to streamline the youth unemployment focus across government departments.

The pilot implementation phase has focused on developing and nurturing multi-sectoral COPs at national, provincial, and local levels to support both young people and the services and opportunities that exist for them; and to roll out the approach, tools and systems of the BPS in five selected communities in three provinces of South Africa. The aim of this phase has been to understand whether the theoretical BPS concept and all of its envisaged components could be turned into a reality to achieve proof of concept.

The first pilot site was opened in Atlantis, Western Cape, in January 2022, followed by the second site in Orange Farm, Gauteng, in June 2022. A further site was established in Cato Manor, Durban, in January 2023. These three sites are implemented under the direct supervision and guidance of the BPS management team. Further sites in Jabulani and Alexandra, Gauteng, were established in the second half of 2022 with Amandla EduFootball, to test a partner implementation model. While the selected sites share some key characteristics, they represent diverse socio-economic and cultural contexts and offer an opportunity to test different implementation approaches.

The staggered opening of the sites allowed the BPS team to clarify practices, learn lessons, and adapt approaches as needed to inform further implementation and scale-up plans. True to the team’s commitment to scaling ‘out, deep and up’, documenting learnings and measuring change throughout the programme’s implementation has been a core component of the pilot phase. ‘Learning moments’ with regards to the implementation of the different building blocks of the BPS model are curated and shared with the broader stakeholder group.

BPS Achievements

  • In the first 15 months of pilot implementation in Atlantis and Orange Farm – the two longest running BPS sites – 775 young people expressed an interest in BPS; of whom 508 were eligible for BPS (ineligibility was mostly driven by being older than the cut off age, or not living in the pilot area). Early learnings indicate that the ‘feet on the street’ mobilisation is slightly more efficient at recruiting eligible youth than announcements via the online ( platform, but also that reactions to the online platform differ significantly between the communities. Word-of-mouth spreads relatively quickly, also drawing in youth from areas within the communities that were originally considered to be harder to reach.
  • Significant numbers (294) of eligible youth in the two sites took up at least one coaching session. This represents an ‘activation rate’ of close to 60%, which is higher than those achieved by comparable jobseeker programmes.
  • Qualitative data are gathered on an ongoing basis and in a standardised manner across all sites. Findings consistently indicate that the programme can move young people out of a state of discouragement to active engagement, and provides youth with a sense of hope and possibility. As one young woman in Orange Farm described:

    “And it’s helped because I had doubts towards myself whether I’d be able to go back to school. It changed because I was doubting myself and not seeing myself as someone who could go back to school. Even when someone asked me […] I was like […] ‘I am done with college, there is nothing I can do after and there are no jobs’. But then there is something I can do. It’s not like, if I’m not working, I have to just sit around […]’

  • In Atlantis and Orange Farm, the two longest running pilot sites, 59% of youth who took up their first coaching session are in progress to, or have already developed their first action plans.
  • Importantly, tracking of young people across the programme shows very low ‘drop out’ rates: where young people have not yet gone on to complete an action plan, they are having interim sessions, or have gone on to take a job or learning opportunity which may have led them to pause on their coaching journey. Very small proportions have indicated no longer being interested in the coaching offer.
  • The COP work that is implemented in the BPS pilot sites is leading to small, but significant, shifts in service providers’ understanding of the situation of young people, and of the services provided to NEET youth. For instance in Atlantis, Early Childhood Development centres are now offering childcare options to young female NEET youth who need to attend to job-seeking activities.

[1] The BPS pilot phase is funded by a combination of funders including the European Union, UNICEF, the Standard Bank Tutuwa Community Foundation, DG Murray Trust and National Treasury.