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Why mentorship is important in upskilling programs

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2021-08-03 10:25:18.437158+00:00

3 research-backed reasons why mentorship is important in upskilling programs

Having a mentor has always been one of the key tenets of successful people. Everyone from Bill Gates to Oprah seems to lay some claim to a mentor who helped them in their journey to the top. Yusudi understands this and that is why it has mentorship at the core of its programs, particularly in Jijali.


Within Jijali, participants get to experience the kind of upskilling program that allows them to not only practice their learning but also share their experiences with a virtual mentor. The mentor’s duties include building and nurturing the mentoring relationship, guiding the participant’s learning and development, modelling effective leadership behaviour, advising and counselling, teaching, motivating, and inspiring the mentee.


It is common knowledge that mentors play a very important role in any learning context but they play an especially critical role in the upskilling programs for young people. When these youth seek to upskill themselves, they are likely venturing into new territory. They are usually searching for something bigger and better in their education, their professions or their careers.


By the simple act of having a mentor with whom they meet regularly, they are much more likely to succeed. Here are some research-backed reasons why.


1. Mentorship complements the learning that’s already happening

Upskilling is made easier with mentorship because the latter complements all the learning and skills being gained by the mentee. This has been confirmed in many studies, the key to them being the one by Linda Phillip-Jones[1].


In her study of hundreds of mentor-mentee partnerships as well as individuals unable to identify any mentors in their lives, Phillips-Jones discovered the specific skills and processes required to make a mentoring relationship successful. The first skill listed in her arsenal for mentors is Instructing/Developing Capabilities, as she names it.


According to her, every mentor should be able to do some teaching or instructing as part of their mentoring if they are to be deemed successful. In this case, mentors become “learning brokers”, teachers, behaviour monitors, and role models for their mentees. They also become trainers of the mentoring process itself.


Thanks to mentorship, therefore, the upskilling happens way faster than it would have, otherwise.


2. Mentorship leads to better professional outcomes

The impact of career-related mentoring relationships have been subject to considerable research in the last thirty years and one of the biggest findings is that people with mentors experience better professional outcomes.


A group of researchers from the University of South Florida[2] analysed forty-three studies comparing the various career outcomes of mentored and non-mentored employees. They found that, compared to non-mentored employees, mentored employees received higher compensation, received a greater number of promotions, had greater career satisfaction and were more likely to believe that they would advance in their career.


In a separate study done in Kenya[3], where experienced entrepreneurs mentored female microenterprise owners, it was found that mentorship increased profits by 20 per cent with initially large effects that fade as matches dissolved.


These results are tied to the fact that a mentor offers guidance and advice from their own experiences, which means they can foresee a better future for the mentee if the latter considers their insights and puts them to work. The mentors are also able to open doors for the mentee where they would otherwise be shut.


All of this makes mentorship extremely useful for upskilling programs.


3. Mentorship increases commitment and “staying power”

Mentors are great at showing mentees the importance of long term plans and keeping them accountable. This is a great foundation for a mentee who is to withstand all the challenges that life will throw at them. Mentorship gives them the “staying power” they need to see their plans through.

A good example is entrepreneurs. They go through a lot of ups and downs and having a mentor who’s gone through it all helps to keep everything in focus for the long term. When it comes to employees, mentorship has been shown to increase professional commitment in general.


According to two separate studies[4][5], one on sale representatives and another one on army officers in the US, having an in-house mentoring program increased organisational commitment, reduced intentions of leaving and decreased overall turnover. This can be translated into learning programs in the form of learner retention. In programs where mentorship is included, learners are less likely to quit. Such outcomes are useful for any upskilling program looking to make an impact.



Within the Jijali Learning team, the key principle is that upskilling cannot happen without mentorship. Mentorship has played an important role in how successful the Jijali program has been so far.


In complementing the learning that is already happening, the virtual mentors have been able to guide the participants to fully immerse themselves in the practical aspects of the program and most cases they have even helped them to notice some of the learning concepts and ideas they would have missed if they didn’t have mentors.


The mentors have also been able to enhance the participants’ commitment, satisfaction and focus which has, in turn, ensured that the latter can stay on in the program (which has much higher retention rates than any other online platforms) and they have eventually been able to achieve an increase in their income within a year, which is the ultimate goal of Jijali.


Since mentorship is so impactful to Jijali Learning and its participants, it is bound to have a similar impact on any other upskilling program if done right. Click here to sign up for Jijali.



1. Phillips-Jones, L. (2003) The Mentee’s Guide: How to Have a Successful Relationship with a Mentor. CCC/The Mentoring Group, 13560 Mesa Drive, Grass Valley, CA 95949, 530.268.1146.


2. Allen, T. D., Eby, L. T., Poteet, M. L., Lentz, E., & Lima, L. (2004). Career Benefits Associated With Mentoring for Proteges: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(1), 127–136.


3. Brooks, W., Donovan, K., & Johnson, T. R. (2018). Mentors or Teachers? Microenterprise Training in Kenya. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 10(4), 196–221.


4. Joiner, T., Bartram, T. & Garreffa, T. (2004). The effects of mentoring on perceived career success, commitment and turnover intentions. Journal of American Academy of Business, 5, 164-170.


5. Brashear, T., Bellenger, D., & Boles, J. (2006). An Exploratory Study of the Relative Effectiveness of Different Types of SalesForce Mentors. Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, 26, 7-18.

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