Wicked problems are defined by Elizabeth Walton as problems that are “complex, dynamic, multi-faceted and intractable”. (2017, p. 85) Unemployment rates in South Africa are staggering. At Harambe, a non-profit with headquarters in Johannesburg that is dedicated to solving youth unemployment through partnerships, we learned that 63% of South Africans are under the age of 35 and that half of all matriculants are unemployed. We also learned that there is a mismatch between demand and supply. There are vacant jobs yet half of South African youths are unemployed.
Harambe has stepped in to fill a critical need to prepare youth for employment. Lebo Nke, our tour guide, explained that employers often say “Give me the will and I will teach the skill!”. Harambe provides bridging workshops that coaches emerging adults to enter professional settings. We had the good fortune of witnessing Harambe “clients” presenting vision boards and reflecting on their own strengths. Harambe is an example of an innovative, holistic approach to a wicked problem. The statistics of youth unemployment seem intractable. Add in the layers of systemic racism, corruption and oppression and we have a classic wicked problem described by Walton in the text Inclusive Education in African Contexts.
Phasha, N., Mahlo, D., & Dei, G. J. S. (Eds.). (2017). Inclusive Education in African Contexts: A Critical Reader. Springer.