An important time for all stakeholders to uplift SA’s youth - PwC
DURBAN - As SA’s lockdown restrictions ease in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, its impact on the economy will be long-lasting and challenging.
It is an important time for business, government, educators, non-government organisations, and other stakeholders to uplift the development of SA’s youth. Young people are particularly susceptible to the socio-economic ramifications of the pandemic.
Shirley Machaba, Chief Executive for PwC Southern Africa, said, "This is a critical juncture for business, educators, government and other stakeholders to reflect on the consequences of the pandemic and consider bolstering efforts and initiatives to find ways to help young people".
June is celebrated as Youth Month in SA and focuses on 16 June – Youth Day. This year, the theme for Youth Month is ‘Youth Power – Growing South Africa together in the Period of Covid-19’. The theme illuminates the role that young people can play in the revival of South Africa’s economy during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lullu Krugel, Chief Economist for PwC Strategy& Africa said, "SA’s youth unemployment is both an individual tragedy, as well as a community and socio-economic one. Unemployment and poverty are linked inextricably as income from wages account for nearly three-quarters of South Africans’ income. The youth carries a particularly heavy burden – an estimated 8.2 million (40.1 percent) of South Africans aged 15 to 24 years were unemployed in the last quarter of 2019 – i.e. before the current economic downturn".
"Unemployment and job insecurity, and in some instances fallout from education, will impact the economy for many years to come. Solving SA’s youth unemployment rate will take a long-term and multi-concerted effort by all stakeholders," added Krugel.
According to global research, South Africa’s education system is considerably lower than that of its global counterparts, suggesting that learners are not adequately equipped to meet the requirements for today’s workplace. This is further corroborated by business leaders’ concerns about the difficulty of finding skilled workers for their businesses. According to PwC’s 23rd Annual Global Chief Executive Survey 2020, the shortage of key skills remains a top concern for Chief Executive s with only 6 percent of South African business leaders saying they have made “significant progress” in establishing an upskilling programme.
Without any work experience or upskilling of young people, many will not be absorbed into the economy and workplace. While fighting current levels of youth unemployment as a matter of urgency, SA must also build a pipeline of future talent that can actively take part in the age of automation and digital technology. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought about new business models and new ways of working that require technical, digital and soft skills.
At PwC we have launched several initiatives for young people to enter our organisation. These include internships, mentorships, coaching and bursaries. In line with our purpose, we have invested in several initiatives to nurture future business leaders, such as our ‘Foundation for the Future’ programme. This initiative exposes talented young graduates to various operational disciplines within the advisory line of service and provides them with opportunities to be mentored by directors and senior managers.
This month we have launched a series of virtual platforms to connect and engage in meaningful dialogue with young people to assist them in solving important problems and navigate the ‘new normal’. We will also be looking at the impact that the youth have brought to PwC.
"This is the time for all stakeholders to work together to uplift the development of our young people. Only through large-scale interactive participation, can the voice of SA’s young people be heard and become truly representative in civil society," concluded Machaba.
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