Enterprising School Leavers

Enterprising School Leavers
Learning Brief

GOLD Peer Education Development Agency

GOLD Future Forward

Category: Enterprising School Leavers | Opportunity mediation services | 21 March, 2013 - 14:12


GOLD is a non-profit organisation focused on youth leadership and behaviour change.  It was established in 2004 to respond proactively to the increasing incidence of HIV infections and risky behaviour among vulnerable youth in Sub-Saharan Africa and its impact on families, social capital and the wider education system.  The GOLD model consists of a 3-year peer education programme that is supported by a robust curriculum, and by numerous implementation partners. Currently GOLD serves 2,916 teenagers from disadvantaged communities in South Africa, as well as 957 teenagers in Zambia. These young high school goers are enrolled as peer educators in a three year GOLD Skills Training programme. Through its implementing partners, GOLD recruits and trains recent high-school graduates to act as young adult Facilitators who train the peer educators.

At the heart of the GOLD approach is the focus to equip key adolescents in reaching their full potential so that they can empower their peers and other younger children to make purpose-driven and health-enhancing decisions across all areas of their lives. GOLD’s peer education model aims to harness the influence that young leaders have with their peers to encourage them to make informed choices and redefine social norms for youth in society.

When GOLD managers saw the need to also help their youth enter the job market they sought a solution that would not compromise or overly burden the existing life-skills curriculum. The result was the development of the Future Forward workshop, which this learning brief discusses.

The GOLD Model

The GOLD model is established on the premise that the most effective way to create behaviour change amongst youth is through fellow peers. As such, the model is designed to equip and support key adolescents from hard hit communities to become skilled opinion leaders and strong influencers of their peer.

First, we select adolescents aged 15 to 19 who reflect diverse youth interests such as academics, music, and sport, and who demonstrate leadership potential. These so called peer educators partake in our 3-year GOLD programme and attend weekly skills training sessions, covering six life skills 6 modules.

Second, through various implementing partners, we recruit and train recent high-school graduates to act as young adult Facilitators.

Third, these Facilitators meet weekly with the peer educators to deliver lessons and group discussions based on a tested life skills, peer education curriculum. The GOLD Peer Education Training curriculum includes the following modules:

  • Self-Development
  • Gender, Relationships and Rights
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • Leadership
  • Communication Skills
  • Community Action

Fourth, we expect the peer educators to share their lessons and knowledge with their school-going peers, and to act as role models to other youngsters in their community by making wise, responsible and mature decisions. They are trained to perform the 4 roles of a GOLD Peer Educator:

  1. Role model health enhancing behaviour
  2. Educate their peers and younger children in a structured way
  3. Recognise peers in need of help and refer them to relevant community resources for assistance
  4. Uplift their communities through advocacy and volunteerism   

Context for Future Forward strategy

Over the past two years the GOLD management team saw a need to help the teenage peer educators and young adult facilitators increase their employability and knowledge about job seeking skills. The solution was the addition of the Future Forward initiative, an extra component to the existing life skills programme that would be focused specifically on career planning tips, job seeking capacity, and adult, post-high-school life skills.

GOLD Future Forward is structured as a once-off 2 or 3 day workshop initially targeted at the Facilitators. It is still in pilot phase and this learning brief provides the lessons learnt from the first 2 day workshop. The GOLD Peer Educator training curriculum is effective in developing important skills such as communication, critical thinking and leadership but the Future Forward training is intentionally geared to complement these skills by equipping young people with knowledge that will enable them to effectively plan for studies/job opportunities upon leaving school.

Future Forward aims to address youth unemployment by providing its school leavers, youth peer educators, and facilitators with support for career guidance; mentoring; and access to further study opportunities.

Lessons on implementing Future Forward training workshops

1.     Develop a conceptual document

Develop a conceptual document outlining the programme value, rational and objective outcomes; the implementation plan; the workshop content; and the target audience. We developed the  GOLD "Future Forward" booklet as a framework, to help us design, accredit and test three skills development and mentoring programmes to build market required skills that are specific to enhancing employability and/or further job training and study opportunities at youth exit levels within the GOLD Model.

2.     Get the curriculum accredited

After an intense process that took over two years GOLD received approval for 2 learning programmes: 

  • Unit Standard 264256 “Implement a pre-designed peer education programme in a specific setting under supervision – Level 2
  • Unit Standard 264260 “Facilitate a Peer Education Intervention” Level 4

The process of accreditation is a complex one and GOLD made use of an accreditation specialist to assist in the process. GOLD had to allocate a substantial amount of time to a GOLD manager to oversee the process.

The Accreditation status of an organisation is re-evaluated every year and GOLD is currently awaiting a verification visit from the RTDP Seta to confirm our status for the 2012/13 period.

3.     Design workshop material using accredited curriculum

The “Future Forward” workshop training material was developed in alignment with the accredited Unit Standards and was submitted for approval to the ETDP Seta in 2013. The workshop was designed to equip young people with the knowledge and skills to better access study and job opportunities.  The training process notes were written by the GOLD Capacity Building Services and International Programme Managers using the Future Forward Booklet as the framework and the strategic outcomes developed by the CEO.

Objectives of the Future Forward Workshop:

  • Build students’ career knowledge, skills, and awareness of job search opportunities and regional resources;
  • Develop students’ knowledge and skills to create an effective CV, prepare for a job interviews, and secure job opportunities;
  • Ensure that students have marketable adult level capacities such as having a Drivers Licence, an email address, and a bank account;
  • Help develop participant’s self-esteem to market themselves in the job arena;
  • Enhance understanding of Entrepreneurial characteristics and Profile

4.     Workshop material should be interactive and varied

In order to accommodate different learning styles, to make the content engaging and interesting, and to maximise what participants would gain from the intense workshop training, we designed the workshop material to be interactive and varied.

Workshop modules were geared towards increasing knowledge and skill in order to:

  • successfully apply for, and get, an ID book
  • open a bank account
  • know where and how to search for a job or internship
  • conduct oneself in a job interview
  • start a small business
  • apply for study opportunities and tertiary education
  • write a good CV

As such we offered practical sessions dedicated to compiling a CV and interview preparation. We showed a DVD with clips of how to conduct oneself in an interview, and we invited guest speakers from industry to share their recruitment and job seeking experiences.

1.     Run a pilot workshop and invite key stakeholders and management

GOLD Facilitators, trainers, and our implementing organisation programme managers took part in the interactive workshop to pilot the Future Forward training material and workshop structure.

When running a training workshop for the first time, invite management and other programme stakeholders because this encourages quality assurance, increases participation, and enhances the commitment and accountability from trainers and participants alike. 

We also invited guests from various industries to share their knowledge and personal experiences about the requirements of someone entering the job market, and to share about what recruiters are looking for in job candidates.

Implementation challenges we encountered

A two day workshop is too short. A three day training workshop is more optimal. In this timeframe you can cover all the new information, help participants to think differently about assumptions they hold, allow for question time, enable role play sessions, and allow for informal interaction session between participants and guest speakers.

We had a brief section on “Starting a Small Business”, which was far too simplistic for the needs of the participants. A key lesson learnt was that GOLD needs to further research the requirements and needs of participants wishing to start up a business.  GOLD will need to be more specific in terms of what young people need to know and how to put them in touch with experts in the field of ‘Entrepreneurship’

If guest speakers are invited, there needs to be informal time afterwards (perhaps during lunch) when participants can ask additional questions.

Arrange access to computer facilities for the duration of the event. This will allow participants to work with Microsoft office to compile a CV and to view the various tools and templates it offers.  Participants had to manually write their CV’s, which meant that the exercise took time and limited the practicum that an online facility would have allowed for. It is ideal that participants are given access to at least one computer per 5 participants. 

Improvements for the future

Based on the challenges that were experienced we recommend the following improvements for such Future Forward training workshops:

  • Increase the 2 day workshop to a 3 day workshop
  • More time should be made available for questions and answers
  • Access to facilities with computers will strengthen the training
  • Time must be allowed for CV’s to be written and increased scrutiny and assessment of this activity must take place.
  • Engaging successful entrepreneurs and business people to come and share their stories and allow for participants to be exposed to these individuals.

Workshop Scalability

GOLD is exploring packaging the Future Forward training to reach a wider audience who are not part of the GOLD Peer Education programme. The training is relevant for all young people entering the work place or study institutions and therefore it can be used by any organization wishing to equip young people with market entry skills.  In order to ensure that the training is effectively used GOLD will offer training to Facilitators who would then deliver the Future Forward training. A tool kit to supplement the training would be available and would include:

  • DVD with clips of how to conduct yourself in an interview
  • DVD of selection of best guest speakers and their presentations along with the discussions that followed that were held at GOLD trainings (This DVD would be useful where trainings were held where it was not possible to invite a guest speaker)
  • The Future Forward Booklet
  • Future Forward Training Process Notes
  • Slides for use in the training and to accompany the process notes
  • Hand-outs - Template for CV, Sample Job Adverts in order to do role plays for a job interview


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In Short

The addition of a career workshop to the GOLD peer-education programme provides a lesson on how established programmes can adapt to the emergent needs of youth in South Africa, and can add a vital programmatic component without overly burdening the existing life-skills curriculum.

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