Empowering the youth to thrive during and beyond the pandemic
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Education is often referred to as the great equaliser because it can open doors to job opportunities, resources and skills that individuals, families and countries need to not only survive but thrive. Access to quality education is linked to many solutions that can drive economic growth and reduce income inequality.
Masenyane Molefe, the Executive Trustee of the PPS Foundation, a public benefit organisation established by PPS Insurance in 2016, is proud of the work the foundation does regardless of the challenges brought on by the pandemic.
The PPS Foundation has, over the years, implemented several development initiatives that are aligned to two of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which are quality education and decent work and economic growth. As an organisation that seeks to develop South Africa’s next wave of economically empowered young professionals, the PPS Foundation has consistently contributed to youth development and empowerment through its continued activities and programmes. The entity continued addressing social issues exacerbated by the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus by helping students beyond the lecture room.
Some of the initiatives include tackling food insecurities within the student community, sponsoring universities with personal protective equipment (PPE) for students that were and are still on the frontline, assisting with access to digital devices as well as providing internet data to those with limited access during the crossover to e-learning.
What follows after one completes their qualification? With youth unemployment at a staggering 74.7% in the first quarter of 2021, it means that only one in four school leavers who are 24 years or under have a job in South Africa. With job opportunities scarce and the world of work having changed dramatically in the last year, the PPS Foundation has, through its 12-month-long Graduate Internship Development Programme, provided recent graduates who looked to join the market with on-the-job work experience.
“The PPS Foundation’s programmes are coordinated for the benefit of the public, and as such, our mandate directs us to drive programmes that truly speak to making an impact in the lives of young South Africans, particularly future graduate professionals. Amid the challenges, we still find ourselves in a privileged position to continue our work and get a good number of graduates into the business this year as well as retaining some interns who were part of last year’s cohort,” says Molefe.
The pipeline of graduate professionals continues to grow in South Africa. Although students do not know their fate when applying for jobs, they are still required to possess a level of preparedness as the crossover from being a student to entry-level employees happens, should they be successful in this pursuit. Over the years, the PPS Foundation ran contact sessions of the LEAP (Learned, Engaged, Accelerated Professionals) work-readiness programme in various tertiary institution campuses. However, how these workshops were delivered had to be adjusted given lockdown restrictions.
“We are acutely aware of how the pandemic has impacted everyone, and our organisation remains resilient. As the global economy, governments and society weather this situation, we aim to continue being the strong partner that South Africa can rely on,” Molefe concludes.