People standing in a long queue to apply for jobs. Picture: Sarah Makoe
People standing in a long queue to apply for jobs. Picture: Sarah Makoe

SA’s youth need basic workforce skills now more than ever

By Supplied Time of article published Oct 14, 2021

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By Dion Reddy

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 South Africa 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”.

StatsSA 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 StatsSA 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 StatsSA 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

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.

The company’s Effective Workforce (EWF) programme which features 21online short courses. 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.

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.

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