Our economy needs young people as desperately as young people need prospects for the future, says the author. Picture: Supplied
Our economy needs young people as desperately as young people need prospects for the future, says the author. Picture: Supplied

How we can empower SA youth for job creation

By Opinion Time of article published Sep 3, 2021

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By Louis Pulzone

One in four people under the age of 24 in South Africa is unemployed – this is a statistic that raises concern, but importantly, it is a statistic that should galvanise us into action to put all that wasted potential to work.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, Africa has the youngest population in the world, and it’s growing fast. In fact, in about 30 years from now, the continent’s youth population (aged 15-24) is expected to be more than double the 2015 total of 226 million. As such, it is the only continent that should have no concerns about its future workforce, but sadly, this is not the case.

A lack of technical and business skills leaves our future workforce largely unprepared for the current and future world of work, and by being unemployed, our youth are not learning the workplace skills that will make them successful.

Surrounding this ocean of untapped potential, is a country and a continent ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic. To recover, our economy needs new thinking, fresh approaches and a real drive to encourage entrepreneurship. In short, our economy needs skilled young people.

With this in mind, our economy needs young people as desperately as young people need prospects for the future, be it a job or the opportunity to create a business and employ others.

Why can’t the two meet? The obstacle is a massive skills mismatch – and an unhealthy dose of pessimism about the 74.7% of unemployed young people.

Too many decision-makers in the public and private sectors alike believe them to be a problem that needs solving. At LFP Group, we take a different view. We see limitless potential wanting to be unlocked.

We don’t see a nameless mass of job seekers. We see individuals capable of learning, growing and changing the world.

This view of young people informs our approach to skills development, learnerships and job creation, as well as the companies with whom we partner.

Far from ticking boxes and chasing numbers, our programmes are designed to alleviate poverty, create social cohesion and safer communities, and bring about economic inclusion and transformation – with the ultimate objective to create a globally competitive economy.

We pursue these objectives through a variety of integrated training and business solutions. These include:

· Skills development and training across all sectors and industries.

· Learnerships for individuals and through corporates, public sector entities and SETAs.

· Custom-designed digital learning programmes that enable ongoing skills development and training, despite Covid-19 restrictions.

· Mentorship programmes.

· Consultation and facilitation to improve BEE scores.

The LFP Group recently hosted a discussion where industry, public and private sector stakeholders had the much-needed conversation about what needs to be done to empower South Africa’s youth with the aim to accelerate socio-economic development and economic recovery.

Skills development is never an end in itself, and we believe it is our responsibility to mobilise a broad spectrum of role players to focus on the ultimate goal, which is a South African economy that is globally competitive and that includes all its citizens in meaningful and rewarding economic activity.

This can only be achieved if we stop solving the problem of youth unemployment and start unlocking the potential of millions of individuals who are our country’s most valuable asset.

*Louis Pulzone is the CEO of LFP Group.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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