World Youth Day 2021

World Youth Skills Day, observed annually on 15 July, focuses on the importance of equipping our youth with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. Youth unemployment has reached critical levels in South Africa, with almost 1 in 2 young people unemployed.

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“As wave 3 of the pandemic rocks our country's health infrastructure, solutions are needed more than ever to build the necessary skills which facilitate employment security, and a satisfying workplace future,” says Natalie Rabson, Skills and Career Counsellor at Boston City Campus.

Reversing SA’s unemployment abyss

The pandemic has accelerated the need to further skill our youth, as companies increasingly adopt digital solutions to survive the work from home economy. According to Statics SA 59,5% of our youth are unemployed. Equipping our youth with skills is a deciding factor between staying ahead of the curve or falling even further behind.

Natalie provides insights on various ways to empower our youth with the necessary skills:

1. Bridging the matric/varsity gap with a Higher Certificate

Accredited Higher Certificates enable student to bridge the gap between secondary and tertiary education, serve as an entry level to the workplace, and open up new options for Higher Education. Students commit to 1 year of studies which can also be done online and part-time. Additionally, this certificate also enables students to access further Higher Education such as degrees and diplomas. “We consider this programme so vital to bridging gaps and opening education opportunities that we have committed to subsiding the Boston Higher Certificates by up to 30% for all students.”

2. Developing relevant, appropriate skills

The Covid-led digital transformation has resulted in new business models and transformed ways of working. “We need to create a workforce that is upskilled with a combination of technical, digital, interpersonal and thinking skills in order to realise the potential dividend of new job opportunities in the automated workplace of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

This means providing students with the academics as well as practical experience in industry specific, real workplace environments such as with Boston’s Work Integrated Learning Programme.

3. Ensuring work readiness

Students need to be groomed in order to meet the demands of the modern workplace. This means competency in work protocols as well as the necessary technical skills relevant to a chosen profession.

“We realised where graduates were falling short was that they don’t have access to information about workplace behaviour. We thus devised the Graduate + programme where we provide clear instruction and training.” This programme specifically skills graduates for the workplace environment, teaching them skills including the basics of how to dress appropriately to strategic building of CV, broader workplace skills, workplace protocols and life skills such as confidence, communication and networking.

“Academic institutions need to support students through the entire process of getting a qualification - from the first day of their studies right through to completion and finding a job. Having the requisite knowledge, skills and attitude empowers them to effectively tackle the job market.”

Skills development in the time of Covid

In the pre-Covid world of January 2020, the World Economic Forum had already highlighted the “reskilling emergency” which needs to be addressed in order to accommodate jobs which will be transformed by technologies of the 4IR. “Our youth now have to contend with a double edged sword: the ravages of Covid and the demands of an increasingly technology-based workplace, where 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change by 2022, according to the WEF. “

“As stakeholders - government, academic institutions, industries and policy makers, we face a joint responsibility to address the dire situation of youth unemployment by equipping our youth with the relevant skills that will enable their active participation in the workforce”.

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