A new Readiness Programme has launched with the aim of bettering the skills and readiness of South Africa's youth as they enter the workforce.
The Programme, still in its pilot phase which began on 10 November 2022, is targeted towards graduates and hopes to "increase and facilitate capacity building activities that offer jobless people skills and experience."
This comes as a way to address the rising concern amongst employers that recently qualified employees are not properly prepared for the world of work.
Beginning in four of South Africa's nine provinces, the ultimate goal of the Programme (specifically working in the field of social work) is to combine work integrated learning (often used by many higher education institutions as part of an academic course) with community service.
"The programme is meant to expand on what the universities have done; remember universities give the academic skills, they give theory, and the Readiness Progamme enhances through creating an opportunity for the young graduates to actually test the application of those theories that they've learnt," says Langi Malamba from the South African Council for Social Services.
Malamba says the hope is to create a work integrated learning programme that extends past the usual six months, so that graduates can feel confident enough to apply for a job seeing as they have the skills and experience they have gained through the programme.
Essentially, graduates are hoping to find themselves with one-year internships (in a specific field of social work that they have an interest in) by the end of the first three months of the programme, which could evolve into permanent employment or recruitment from other places of work.
The first batch of selected youth during the programme's pilot phase are a mix of newly-qualified graduates and those who have qualified three or four years ago, but were not fortunate to gain employment since then.
From 10 December, graduates will head into their communities for a period of three months to "find a fit, to see whether [they] want to work in the children's centre, in urgent care, or in an older person agency", explains Malamba. Once those three months have passed and a "debrief" has been conducted by the Programme, the graduates will be sent out once again but for a year this time.
"When they finish with the three months after this boot camp [first month], they're going to come back, we debrief them and they go back to the same organization if they find it a perfect fit and they still want to stay there; they will then work for a year as a community service internship," elaborates Malamba.
Malamba also says the want the Readiness Programme to expand and become a national programme that can assist all social work graduates once they've completed their studies.
The programme will enhance the critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, as well as leadership skills of recent graduates, in order to build their creativity and innovation when placed in an agency, and to assist them in forming connections and collaborations for future.