World Youth Skills Day – Shining a light on four youth-focused clean energy initiatives

July 2023

July 15th marked World Youth Skills Day – celebrating the vital contributions young people bring to the workforce. As catalysts for change and the generation that will accelerate progress towards a more equitable and sustainable world, the individuals and initiatives enabling youths to reach their full potential must be recognised.

Climate change and access to clean, affordable energy sit at the forefront of many young people’s minds, as they strive to find innovative ways to protect the planet and secure their and subsequent generations’ futures. Homing in on SDG 4 – quality education and SDG 7 – affordable, clean energy for all – the TEA platform is proud to showcase the activities from across the partners that are contributing to these goals.

From the outset, the TEA platform has recognised the vital contributions that young people can make in contributing to a just and inclusive energy transition when given access to the right opportunities and training.

Demonstrating a commitment to building the skills and capabilities needed to enable and expand the clean energy transition in developing countries, the TEA-Learning Partnership brings together higher education institutions across Africa, South Asia, and the Indo-Pacific, supporting them to develop and implement new first-of-its-kind postgraduate curricula. More recently TEA-LP has onboarded 23 new universities to the partnership as part of its scale-up. Two recent graduates who met on a TEA-LP supported course at the University of Port Harcourt are using the skills and qualifications they gained to thrive in the sector having co-founded renewable energy company ‘Tonipash Energy’ in 2022. This Nigeria-based clean energy company is working to build a sustainable, and climate-resilient environment through their flagship initiative, ‘Tonipash Sustainable Energy Talks’.

Shortlist – photo credit Shell Foundation

Recognising the potential of what can be achieved when young people come together and are given access to educational opportunities to turn their ambitions into a reality, the TEA platform is also sponsoring 30 Chevening Scholarships to specifically support emerging leaders from the global south in the clean energy access sector. A highly competitive process will select top scholars ranging from engineers to social scientists, with a passion for energy access and social development, who will have the opportunity to undertake an energy-related Master’s degree in the United Kingdom. Students will gain international experience, a network of energy experts and a Masters qualification from an internationally-recognised institution, enabling them to return home as changemakers within the energy access and transition space.

With the youngest population in the world, 70% of sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 30. Employment opportunities to support youths to create stable futures are vital. The TEA platform is also scaling up by £2.5 million a collaboration dedicated to training and securing employment in the clean energy sector for over 1,600 African youths. The Energy Access Talent Initiative (EATI) brought together by Shortlist and African Management Institute will be essential in building a strong and diverse workforce of talented young professionals. Shortlist CEO, Paul Breloff says:

“Education is no longer enough to guarantee a job; young people need on-the-job experience. Programs like this bridge the gap between education and real, career-track employment – and renewable energy and climate are poised to create more jobs on the continent than any other sector in the next decade,”.

Levelling out the playing field for gender equality and social inclusion in the clean energy sector is a priority area of TEA. Young women are a particular focus of TEA skills and expertise activities, and both the TEA-LP and EATI have clear objectives and strategies aimed at maximising female participation and empowering female students and trainees. The Future Females Leaders in Energy course was designed by African Managers Institute (EATI) and the University of Cape Town (TEA-LP) and aims to equip young women with the skills and training needed to progress into energy-related management and leadership positions. The programme welcomes applications from women in entry-level roles in the energy sector interested in gaining skills and knowledge to confidently thrive.

Beyond the TEA platform’s direct support of youth-focussed initiatives, we also recognise the work of our partner programmes and in-market organisations that are committed to supporting young people. For example, Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst programme, funded by the FCDO and the UK Department for Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT) via the Ayrton Fund, is supporting Zambia-based ed-tech academy Open Energy Labs. Together with Fam Studio Limited, Open Energy Labs works with students in Zambia and Rwanda empowering them with hands-on, ‘learn by making’ training. Currently, students are working towards developing a smart solar energy platform for families and fleet operators to support rural users in controlling monitoring and maintaining solar home systems to improve reliability and connectivity rates. 

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