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More Than Ever, SA’s Youth Need Basic Workforce Skills

Record numbers of learners are moving through our education system every year, putting massive pressure on our economic landscape to create more jobs. Years of local economic challenges, compounded by the global pandemic, have resulted in our unemployment rate reaching its highest-ever level of 34.4%.

In terms of unemployment, it is the youth who are the worst affected. A report from Stats SA earlier this year outlined how the unemployment rate was “46.3% among young people aged 15 to 34 years, implying that almost one in every two young people in the labour force did not have a job in the first quarter of 2021”.

Stats SA went on to state that “those aged 15 to 24 years are more vulnerable in the labour market with an unemployment rate of over 63%, an absorption rate of about 7.6% and a labour force participation rate of 20.6%”.

Other alarming statistics point to how even qualified youth are burdened with this problem as Stats SA states that “the graduate unemployment rate was 40.3% for those aged 15 to 24 and 15.5% among those aged 25 to 34 years, while the rate among adults (aged 35 to 64 years) was 5.4%”.

While policymakers and business leaders will need to do more to drive up investment and growth, there is still low-hanging fruit that we as South Africans can strive towards in terms of improving this situation for our youth.

One such area that we can pay more attention to is basic workforce skills.

As indicated by the Stats SA figures, there are those with a matric, and even university graduates, who might have the right education requirements for certain jobs, but are unable to secure positions they are qualified for.

Some of this may be owing to a lack of basic workforce skills, including knowing how to put together a CV, understanding the ins and outs of business communication, business mathematics and budgets, reading payslips, dealing with diversity and so much more.

To some, these skills might seem to be an obvious prerequisite for the working world. However, because of our unjust past, the majority of South Africans do not have the privilege of generational knowledge and advice to help guide them through.

Affordable short courses

As South Africa’s leading workforce training provider for over 25 years, Optimi Workplace, through its offering Media Works, has launched affordable short courses that can help our youth better navigate the world of employment, especially during this time of crisis.

As a result, we’ve developed our Effective Workforce (EWF) programme which features 21 short courses, each costing just R450. These online courses can be easily purchased via our website and you get access to them immediately upon paying. The courses are short enough that they can be completed within a day, but learners can have access to them for up to 18 months.

These NQF-rated courses are also fully mobile-friendly and consist of interactive content, as well as dedicated chat groups. In terms of topics, these courses range from business skills to preparing oneself for employment, working in a team, to managing personal finances, and many more.

It’s effectively a full toolkit to help anybody get ready for the workforce and, upon completion, learners immediately receive a printable certificate. Businesses, from anywhere in South Africa, can also buy these courses for their newer employees. It’s further worth noting that this spend can be utilised towards the skills development component on businesses’ B-BBEE certificates.

Finally, for anybody who wants to find out more about our EWF programme, we’ll be conducting a free webinar on 20 October where we will be explaining more about our courses and how they work. You can RSVP by clicking on this link.

Together, we can do more to help tackle this crisis and create a better future.

Dion Reddy is an education expert at Optimi Workplace. Optimi Workplace focuses on providing comprehensive workforce and community education and training offerings for corporates and the public sector. It does this via its Media Works and Tuta Me offerings.

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