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Reducing youth unemployment: innovative mentoring from Switzerland

Learning Points

The experience of the mentoring programme in Basel highlights the following learning points:

  • like all innovative programmes, the mentoring programme required considerable time, effort and persistence to initially get it off the ground. Those wishing to launch similar programmes should ensure they have enough resources, as well as sufficient commitment from officers and politicians;

  • mentoring programmes work most successfully when they have a clear structure that is communicated to all those involved. It is essential that the mentors and the mentees fully understand how the mentoring process works, and the commitment required from themselves to make it a success;

  • fundamental to the success of the programme is partnering the 'right' mentor to the 'right' mentee. One of the programme's strengths is its relatively small scale which enables the programme managers to get to know the mentees, helping them choose the best mentor for each individual. In the past six years only three to four mentoring relationships have not worked well and, in these cases, the programme officer has worked with the mentor and mentee to resolve the issue and re-partnered them if necessary. Scaling up of the programme may require additional officer time to ensure that the partnering service continues to be successful;

  • the informal approach taken by the programme is also seen as a strength. The programme is designed to keep the bureaucratic face of the Kanton in the background, and instead, to encourage the mentors and mentees to develop strong, informal relationships trough meeting in their homes or in cafes.

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Steffi Wirth

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Emmeline Cooper wrote this case study for Governance International on 26 September 2011

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