In South and Southern African, more than half of the young people are ensnared in a complex and intractable unemployment crisis that is being driven, in part, by a transition toward a highly industrialised food system. Luke’s research into the social narratives and learning networks in the South African food system makes a unique contribution to the ongoing national debate around youth employment and food system transitions. Based on empirical data from a combination of narrative inquiries and social network mapping, he will share two central insights from his past and ongoing research. The first, presents youth narratives on agricultural careers as a politically resonant mandate for food system transformation. The second, touches on insights into how the informal and fragmented knowledge within emerging sustainability niches can be wielded more effectively to underpin the skills revolution that a transition to a just food system requires.