The high and worrying rate of youth unemployment across South Africa is a major cause of concern.
According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the first quarter of 2022, the unemployment rate was 63,9% for those aged 15-24 and 42,1% for those aged 25-34 years.
Work has been done to tackle the growing number of jobless youth through various projects and initiatives, such as the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative, which provides employment opportunities for the youth as Teaching and General Assistants at a number of South Africa's schools.
However, it is clear that more needs to be done for this work-in-progress situation.
The Digital Sector, which is under-developed in South Africa, can provide such opportunities to combat the youth unemployment rate.
Reshni Singh, CEO of Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA), which serves as the industry body and trade association for Global Business Services (GBS) in South Africa on both international and domestic markets, recently discussed the various avenues of opportunity for the youth to become employed in the Digital Sector.
Singh explains the 2021 GBS Masterplan co-created between government and the Department of Trade Industry and Competition, as well as BPESA and other stakeholders, which focuses on creating 500 000 jobs by 2030.
"Out of that 500 000 jobs, at least 80% will be targeted at youth, with a special focus on excluded youth; so looking at youth from marginalized communities that have never had opportunities to be able to access these types of roles. There's a target to bring them into the industry," elaborated the CEO.
The South African Global Business Services (GBS) sector was actually able to continue thriving and functioning throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, unlike multiple other sectors that had to adjust and ended up buckling under the pressure.
An analysis by the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator revealed that very few sectors, if any, have been able to return to pre-pandemic levels of employment, but even then things haven't been the same.
Deputy President, David Mabuza, says that for the country to win any fight against poverty and high levels of unemployment, it has to ensure that young people are empowered through education and training, also mentioning the National Digital and Future Skills Strategy.
The Strategy seeks to address the development of digital skills relevant in the 21st century from early childhood development to post-school education and training.
Mabuza added that he hopes South Africa becomes more digitally adaptive, to ensure digital inclusivity for future generations.
“This will be possible if we establish an education and skills development ecosystem that provides South Africans with the required skills to create and participate in the digital economy.” he adds.
From the 8th to the 10th of November, BPESA will be meeting with local stakeholders and global investors at the GBS Investor Conference. Singh says this year's Conference, taking place in KwaZulu-Natal, is a culmination of all the work that has been done since the previous Conference, which was held in 2019.
"We have a number of investors that have flown in from various parts across the globe to join us, and we have all of our domestic stakeholders, GBS operators that are based in different locations and also based in South Africa, [...] there is a lot of commitment from our international investors that are looking to further grow the Sector in South Africa," Singh explained.
The CEO concluded by stating that the GBS has a target of creating 22 000 jobs this year.