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Focusing
on a positive impact

Building a foundation for a happy life

By Natalia Piontkevich

Being a part of the SOS Children`s Villages Regional team in my Johnson & JohnsonSecondment assignment is extremely inspiring and meaningful for me. The NGO’s mission is very close to my heart – providing children without adequate parental care with a wide range of support to build the foundation for a happy and independent life.

Driven by our company’s Credo, Johnson & Johnson recognizes young people as a driving force for peace and development. Their energy and creativity are key in building a better future, and they are often the first to come up with innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. By celebrating International Youth Day on 12th August we continue to draw attention to the challenges faced by young people today . The theme of International Youth Day 2019, “Transforming Education”, highlights the importance of making education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all young people. 

SOS Children’s Villages empowers young people and prepares them for independence. Finding decent work and meaningful employment is a particularly daunting challenge for those who cannot count on the networks, resources and guidance of their families. To tackle this challenge, SOS Children’s Villages launched YouthCan!, a global partnership that supports this target group to successfully transition from school to decent work and independent life. Working together with diverse corporate partners and providing individualized training, mentoring and practice opportunities, YouthCan! gives participants the skills and knowledge they need to enter the labor market. Johnson & Johnson is a partner of the YouthCan! initiative, which adds to the other ways J&J actively empowers youth to reach their full potential:

Today on International Youth Day I take the opportunity to interview Daniel E. Ihansekhie, Regional Programme Development Advisor, and Nanda Sigwili-Tilayi, International Students Coordinator, who run the training programs in the Eastern & Southern Africa region. We spoke about SOS Children’s Villages’ approach of empowering young people through advocacy, entrepreneurial, ICT and leadership skills.

What are the challenges young people face in Eastern & Southern Africa?

SOS Children’s Villages: In many countries, young people face social and economic exclusion. They have limited opportunities to access the labor market and embark on their career. The key issue is a lack of jobs in the African market. SOS Children’s Villages addresses this issue by providing entrepreneurship skills to young people between 18-25 years, so they can not only finance themselves but also create more jobs for the community. 

I heard about a successful face-to-face training initiative of SOS Children’s Villages in Johannesburg last year, where 52 young people were trained in partnership with Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) on leadership and entrepreneurship, and this year already 120 young people from 17 countries participated.

How do you ensure the success of this program?

SOS Children’s Villages: To build relevant content and provide young people with the best trainings to improve their skills, we work with strategic partners such as YALI (https://yali.state.gov/regionalleadership-centers/) and invite external and internal experts in the market to facilitate the training. For instance, many young people across Eastern & Southern Africa are currently participating in YALI Online Trainings in their home countries. YALI’s professionals provide in-person and online training throughout the year in business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership and public management. They also offer extensive opportunities for professional development and networking. This year YALI was supported by Deloitte Consulting and Training Experts.

There are many interesting global opportunities for young people to engage in for personal growth and general fulfillment. We therefore need to assist the leaders of tomorrow to shape their future to become contributing members of their communities.

The Secondment Program, part of the Johnson & Johnson Talent for Good Strategy, is a long-term collaboration between Johnson & Johnson, our employees, and our NGO partners to invest in and build the skills of people on the front lines of care in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Through full-time field assignments of up to six months, our employees transfer their knowledge, expertise, and passion to our partners at the heart of delivering care, uniquely give back to society, and change the trajectory of human health. By the end of 2019, 60 J&J employees will have taken part in the program working for 8 NGO partners across 25 countries in the EMEA region.