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WhatsApp Short-Course To Help Combat Youth Unemployment

  • 4 min read

SACAP (The South African College of Applied Psychology) has taken on the content creation of a nano-course to shift hundreds of thousands of SA youth from a Fixed to a Growth Mindset.  The private tertiary educational institution has partnered with social enterprise, the Knowledge Trust to build a simple yet highly effective course to transfer essential personal development skills to 380 000 Knowledge Trust members that can help set them up for success in their training and work.  Representing an educational innovation, the Growth Mindset Course is delivered via WhatsApp, a platform accessible to the vast majority of youth in South Africa.

Understanding a Growth versus Fixed Mindset

Dr Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University is a leading researcher on motivation and mindsets. Her work focuses on why and how people create success. She describes how people with a Growth Mindset see their skills, talents and abilities as a work in progress, and believe they have the capacity to improve their knowledge, abilities and gain experience in the course of their lifetime.  On the other hand, those with a Fixed Mindset tend to believe that their intelligence cannot be enhanced, and their skills and talents will always be what they are. These two opposite mindsets have a seminal impact on our openness to learning, the effort we put in, our tendency to ask for help and accept feedback from others, and affect our success in our endeavours and the achievement of our goals.

The Knowledge Trust has a network of 380 000 members, mostly under 25 years, and more than 70% of them are women.  It brings them together with partners, employers and educational institutions to turn the tide of youth unemployment by opening up learning and earning opportunities. The organisation has established a Growth Mindset as a critical success factor and carries out assessments of its members to measure their job readiness and identify development opportunities.  Jaryd Raizon, Country Manager of The Knowledge Trust in South Africa, reveals that Growth Mindset levels were low, resulting in 80% of members being excluded from learnership and other opportunities because of their Fixed Mindsets.  “This is not surprising,” he says, “Many of our members come from fragile homes and communities where it is just lucky, not the norm, to encounter positive role models.  Limitations are all around you, dominating how you see the world and your potential in it every day.  These are circumstances that cultivate a Fixed Mindset.” 

As a leader in social sciences education in the country, SACAP has a complementary appreciation and focus on the importance of a Growth Mindset.  Karolyne Williams, SACAP’s Head of Strategic Innovation mentions that while course design for other organisations is not a regular SACAP service, they were intrigued with the idea of designing a short course that could help people shift from a Fixed to a Growth Mindset using WhatsApp.  “We were invited by the Knowledge Trust to be involved, and we are passionate about improving youth unemployment,” she says.  “We also know that a Fixed Mindset can be shifted to a Growth Mindset through training.  Young people in South Africa need more than a vision or goals for their lives, they must have the tools, the personal wherewithal, to turn their dreams into realities.  The training opens their eyes to what they can do to drive their own development and helps them realise they are capable of much more than they think.”

‘Soft Launch’ delivers extraordinary results

With the SACAP training content designed in a WhatsApp nano-course format, 1000 Knowledge Trust members with Fixed Mindsets were enlisted in the soft launch in June this year.  Assessed before and after, over 83% of the participants shifted towards a Growth Mindset.  Most participants completed the course in under two hours.  In July, the course was opened to all 380 000 Knowledge Trust members, and amongst a cohort of almost 3000 participants in August, more than 93% improved their Growth Mindset percentages.  Raizon says, “This is a remarkable impact, and the course is now opened to other community members in South Africa who want to focus on their personal development and have the chance to change their stars.”

To sign up for the Growth Mindset Course, visit: