Johannesburg - Securing a good education, getting proper training after the initial education and gaining access to working opportunities are the key challenges facing the youth.

This is the opinion of trainee accountant Sandile Hlongwane, who was interviewed this week by Ellis Mnyandu, the editor of Business Report and the executive producer of Candid Business radio show on the internet radio platform

“Education is not accessible. It has not been a walk in the park. It requires quite a bit of effort for anyone to get anywhere. Especially as a youth in South Africa. Opportunities don’t just come to you. You need to go after them,” Hlongwane added.

Hlongwane said education would most certainly open doors for you. “Key is the ability of a person to acquire a skill. That requires quite a lot other than education. You need mentorship and training. Perhaps we need to focus on more than just education.”

Hlongwane said the extra challenges that the youth of today faced included drug and alcohol abuse, as well as the scourge of HIV/Aids.

He added that it was certainly not easy but the opportunities were there if you were willing to go and seek them.

“Life is happening. People must not sit back and relax. Life is moving on and you need to be part of it.

“Education is important for the youth. But it is not going to come to you. You are going to have to get up and look for those opportunities. Knock on doors – you never know, you might be lucky. Through those opportunities we will get the luck,” he added.

Hlongwane said he had had a chance to work in Kuwait.

“Travelling does something to you. It opens up your mind. Working overseas allows you to acquire new skills,” he added.

Turning to his career goals, Hlongwane said his ultimate goal was to become a chartered accountant. “The majority of the work we do is to study businesses so we can audit them and express opinions about the financial position of those companies. It is more than just calculating numbers.”

The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently issued a report that ranked South Africa’s maths and science education at position 148 out of 148 countries assessed.

However, the government has tried to rubbish the WEF report.

Gareth Armstrong, a Leadership Platform analyst, said that the Department of Education had rejected the WEF report on the basis of the local 2013 maths and science pass rates.

The government had also rejected the WEF report as the state said the report was based on perception rather than facts.

“I don’t care if you have 100 percent pass rate in maths and science if you are being rated as the poorest in the world. What does that do for confidence in your country?” Armstrong wondered.

Mnyandu questioned whether outside investors would even consider coming to South Africa given the rating issued by the WEF.

Armstrong said the knock-on effect of an educated person on the economy was “massive”.

“Our generation has the greatest number of opportunities out there. I think one of the biggest failings of our generation is the fact that we instant everything, instant gratification, instant results, instant this, instant that. We are also inherently lazy. They speak about a failing education system. But the students themselves are shooting themselves in the foot. They don’t see the value or they are lazy or they want instant gratification.

“They don’t care about tomorrow – they care about today.

“You need to make your own luck. Luck is about putting yourself in the right place, in the right forum and approaching someone and when they say yes then your day has arrived – luck has struck,” Armstrong concluded. - Business Report