Helping young people in Barbados and Ghana aspire to new pathways
Prince’s Trust International supports young people in Barbados through face-to-face programmes across enterprise, education, employability and personal development. An opportunity was identified to develop an innovative digital solution to reach even more young people that could act as a stand-alone intervention, or in time support young people pre and post programme or as a blended offering. The result was Vibe Check, a free interactive personal development programme on WhatsApp, for young people in Barbados who want to develop life skills such as confidence, communication and managing their feelings. The pilot offering went live in July 2020 followed by an updated version in February 2021. The Prince’s Trust International is now gearing up to launch Vibe Check Ghana in April 2021.
About Prince’s Trust International
Prince’s Trust International exists to tackle the global crisis in youth unemployment. Its mission is to empower young people to learn, work and thrive. It blends its expertise with a global network of local partners and develops programmes and interventions to help young people to build their own futures.
The research phase identified that young people in Barbados - aged between 18-24 who are unemployed, underemployed or are at risk of dropping out of education - struggled to aspire effectively. With a lack of positive role models or digital spaces that are uniquely built for their personal development, many young people see criminal activity or material wealth as their main goals in life, or they lack confidence to aspire for their futures at all. This presented an opportunity to create a supportive digital service focusing on soft skill development that includes both top-down advice and peer-to-peer content with an emphasis on sharing personal stories.
Focus groups with young people in Barbados identified WhatsApp as the most accessible digital communication tool in use – it was deemed private, easy to use and was already part of their day to day lives. Prince’s Trust International worked with these young people to develop the name, content strands and frequency, as well as the ‘voice’ of the service and brand.
Built using Turn.io on the WhatsApp API, Vibe Check Barbados now features educational modules across communication, confidence, and managing feelings. It focuses on information and guidance delivered via a persona which is empathetic, relatable and non-judgemental. It has also weaved personal stories and real-life challenges into the content. Each content strand includes actions for young people to complete, motivational badges to encourage engagement, and certificates of completion at the end of each module. The service also includes rich content such as images, quotes and voice notes, ensuring the service is visually appealing, accessible and shareable.
Scaling and outcome
Over time, Vibe Check aims to build up a young person’s confidence in themselves by providing them with the knowledge, information and the support that they need, and ultimately helping them to aspire to new pathways for themselves.
Lessons learnt: the importance of piloting and moving to scale in Ghana
Much of the direct feedback from young people gained during the first pilot included the following insights:
Tone & language: Young people loved the use of Bajan slang and reported that it made the service feel like it was built with them in mind.
Voice notes: Young people appreciated the chance to hear messages in voice notes and wanted more.
Peer stories and Vibah ‘challenges’: The service received positive feedback on young people’s engagement in peer stories and vibah challenges (actions for them to take outside the service) – some citing that it made them feel less alone.
Perceived impact: Young people cited that they felt more confident as a result of Vibe Check and they had learnt tools to manage their emotions and communicate with a wider range of people.
Content delivery: High numbers of young people liked the idea of being able to select the order of the topics they consumed and the speed at which they could work through the modules, but are keen to maintain the human element of Vibe Check.
User behaviour: Young people did not engage with the service negatively as anticipated (e.g. expecting immediate responses, contacting the service as a friend, behaving inappropriately.)
Progress tracker: Young people would welcome a progress tracker to keep track of the content they have consumed.
Vibe Check Ghana will focus on providing young people with the skills, confidence and resources to pursue their self-employment goals, ultimately supporting them to make informed decisions about income generation and becoming financially secure The product will provide answers to the questions young people want to know, focusing on soft skill development and entrepreneurial skills. Grounding the service with a locally relevant mentor persona and a focus on providing pragmatic guidance and goal setting, the service will rely on Q&A style content, peer stories and relatable role models. Content topics will include: communication, confidence, managing money and setting business goals.
Across both products Prince’s Trust International endeavours to continue to understand more about:
- How best to measure short term and long-term impact (specifically behaviour change).
- Whether a sense of ‘community’ is necessary to achieve the programme's desired goals.
- Whether males and females respond differently to specific aspects of the service.
- How best to use Turn and RapidPro to support data gathering and monitoring requirements.
- How best to recruit young people onto the platform – through use of friend recommendations, partner referrals as well as print and social media.
- How best to utilise and engage with Prince’s Trust International’s youth advisory group in the long term.