More than skills: The importance of social and community connections in youth development

Christopher J. Johnstone, Bethany Schowengerdt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article examines the limitations of developing youth programs through solely a human capital framework. While there is undoubtedly a strong connection between skills development and potential economic opportunity, our findings reveal that the story of youth who manage to navigate difficult economic environments is complex and nuanced. The article interprets findings through a critical capabilities lens. Its findings indicate that, beyond skills, youth leveraged microcapital gifts from families, connected with each other and broader social networks for new opportunities, and supported one another emotionally. Participants’ stories demonstrate that converting youth capabilities into functioning in their environment requires varied forms of support and networking beyond simple skills development. The article considers implications for youth development programs and research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-113
Number of pages13
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, UNESCO IBE.


  • Capabilities
  • Development
  • Human capital
  • Kenya
  • Skills
  • Social capital
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Youth


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