The benefits of mentorship programmes for the youth have repeatedly been noted in the literature and by organisations throughout the globe. Their success is related to the support, advice, and guidance that mentors are able to provide, which extends beyond a mere colleague or peer relationship. Mentorship programmes are typically implemented in the workplace where a mature supervisor supports a junior employee. With the very high rate of youth unemployment in South Africa (56%) alternative solutions to employment had to be found. As such, a collaborative initiative that capacitated thousands of unemployed youth into micro digital enterprises was commissioned. These digital enterprises were contracted at Wi-Fi Hotspots (informal workplaces) to educate residents on how to connect to free Wi-Fi and utilise various online services. Support at these informal workplaces in the form of mentorship played a crucial role in the programme to ensure success of these newly established youth enterprises. Each digital trainer was allocated a university post-graduate student as mentor for their participation in the 12-week programme to ensure online learning, commitment, and ultimately success of the micro enterprise. Both the digital trainers’ and mentors’ performance was monitored based on the number of residents successfully trained during the opportunity agreement. At the end of the opportunity agreement, mentors completed a battery of psychometric assessments. The main aim of these assessments was to profile successful youth mentors able to assist youth enterprises at their informal workplaces to successfully deliver on contracts.
JvR Psychometrics developed a profile of successful youth mentors who assisted micro enterprises in delivering against contracts. The profile was developed according to the mentors’ personality characteristics (Basic Traits Inventory, BTI), potential for disruptive entrepreneurship (Measure of Entrepreneurial Tendencies and Abilities Disruptive Talent, META DT), and emotional intelligence (Emotional Quotient Inventory 2.0®, EQ-i 2.0®). The outcome of the mentors’ performance in the programme was measured by the total number of residents that were successfully trained by digital trainers that they mentored within the programme. In total, 76 undergraduate students mentoring youth enterprises took part in this study. The majority were men (60%) with an average age of 23 years. Results from the BTI indicate that these young mentors are inquisitive and are motivated to experience novel activities, but do so in an unstructured and spontaneous way. Further, the results from the META DT suggest that mentors are practical, responsible, and have a realistic outlook on what is attainable given the available resources. However, they may become distressed in times of stress, change, or uncertainty. EQ-i 2.0® results indicate that mentors’ area of strength lies in their ability to understand their emotions appropriately by ascertaining what, when, why, and how different emotions impact their behaviour, but, as highlighted above, an area that can be improved on is being able to emotionally cope with change, unfamiliarity, or unpredictability.
From the results, a profile of mentors has emerged. Based on these results, the following characteristics should be considered when mentors are employed to assist unemployed youth in community-based service delivery. Candidates should:
- be curious about their surroundings and be motivated to engage in new experiences;
- be creative and imaginative in solving problems in new ways and generating original ideas;
- be practical, accountable, and realistic;
- have an emotional awareness of themselves and the environment, particularly in times of stress, adjustment, and/or ambiguity; and
- have firm and established values.