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Service Issue 81

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Service magazine addresses key issues related to government leadership and service delivery in South Africa.

S skills development

S skills development Pathways into the economy for Africa’s youth How investing in the employability of young people remains a powerful lever for creating paths into the economy. By Nozuko Mzamo, social investment specialist, Tshikululu Social Investments A An estimated 1.8-billion youth worldwide will not have the skills or qualifications required to participate in the workforce by 2030. As the workplace changes due to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there will need to be a shift in how young people are equipped with the necessary skills and know-how. In the 2018 Global Business Coalition for Education’s report on preparing tomorrow’s workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it was estimated that across the globe, 260-million children were out of school and more than 800-million youth were not on track to learn the basic skills needed to enter the workforce by 2030. The disruption of Covid-19 has accelerated change and further exacerbated the existing inequalities that young people face, making the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 4, “Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting life-long learning opportunities for all,” ever more elusive. The World Bank predicts that the current global cohort of today’s youth generation, because of the pandemic, are at risk of losing USD17-trillion in future earnings. If young people do not develop vastly different skill sets from previous generations, they will face a growingly uncertain future. Undoubtedly, one of the major challenges in South Africa’s development, and the African continent — a continent with a population of approximately 65% young people — is youth unemployment. Alarmingly, the African Development Bank has estimated that 50% of the youth in Africa will be unemployed and economically inactive by 2025. According to the Department of Higher Education and Training, 8.8-million people in South Africa aged 15-34 are youth Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). Approximately 5-million are inactive (not looking for work) and 3.8-million are unemployed (actively seeking employment and available to work). A total of 52% of the 8.8-million people who are youth NEET are female. By the end of the first quarter in 2022, 46% of people between 15 and 34 years of age remained outside of employment, education and training. A total of 50% of the youth in Africa will be unemployed and economically inactive by 2025. The higher education system is faced with challenges ranging from high attrition rates at universities; outdated curricula; low throughput rates in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions; as well as a wide variation in quality and control within the Sector Education and Training Authorities. Additionally, the vocational system suffers from insufficient relationships with business and industry, leaving vocational training institutes illequipped to meet employers’ skill requirements and young people largely either underexposed or not exposed at all to quality career guidance and work-readiness training that would allow them to transition into the world of work. While concerns abound globally, in South Africa in particular, the nature of vocational system quality makes addressing critical issues exceedingly challenging. Given this complex context, what are the opportunities for social investors to create meaningful pathways for young people? Notwithstanding the intricate challenges in the higher education system and the overall South African labour market, our research confirms that employability programmes are a meaningful avenue to the economy for young people. The 2022 Global Business Coalition for Education report exploring the materiality of education highlights the imperative for businesses to invest in skills and education for the youth to equip them for the new world of work and help drive economic growth. If education challenges are left unaddressed, companies will struggle with developing and retaining the workforce pipeline. This directly threatens the opportunities available for businesses to enter new markets and expand to ensure sustainable supply chains are built and maintained. Tangible education, development and training positively drives diversity, equity and inclusion as well as human capital management metrics. Investing specifically in youth employability could allow companies to meaningfully tackle the “S” in their ESG agendas while helping to build a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable society. S 20 | Service magazine

skills development S FIRST-CLASS INDUSTRY 4.0 “I recently received the report of the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) on the implications of 4IR to our post-school education and training (PSET) system. The report provides insights into how the PSET policy-making mechanism can respond to the challenges posed by rapid shifts in the way we learn, live and conduct our business. [The report says] our PSET sector must place great emphasis on developing curricula, programmes and courses that are informed by the demands of the labour market. Being demand-led in this way requires customised initiatives that respond directly to the needs of groups of similarly focused employers and result in employment or self-employment of the young person. However, the relevance of PSET programmes cannot be exclusively dictated by the demands of the labour market. There is a need to equally ensure ongoing curriculum development that prepares students to thrive as the needs of the labour market change and to become active agents in shaping the future of both South African society and its economy. I am proud that two of our Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) and the Media, Information and Communication Technologies (MICT) SETA, collaborated with the Freeport Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone and other partners to establish this SMART Skills Centre. This centre is part of our bigger plan to revolutionise digital skills development in all our nine provinces and to cater for SMME development. The centre will offer various digital skills development programmes, based on technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, software development, data science and mobile repairs. CHIETA forecasts that a minimum of 10 000 unemployed youth from surrounding rural communities will benefit from the centre over the next five years. CHIETA and its stakeholders will provide various online learning platforms for unemployed youth to start up scalable data-driven commercial businesses that will provide technological solutions. As the great Nelson Mandela famously said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” This state-of-the-art centre is a fulfilment of what Madiba represented. We agreed that all SETAs must develop partnerships with other institutions within the PSET sector such as TVET, Community Education Colleges (CET) and the National Skills Fund. Partnerships must also be developed with other government departments and their agencies. Through this centre, CHIETA must now further identify and collaborate with both the TVET and CET colleges in the Western Cape. This will ensure that we rapidly enhance the potential of these colleges to harness open learning to increase access to the PSET learning opportunities that are closely linked to the needs of the labour market and help to drive growth in local employment. This principle must be integrated in the concept of this SMART centre and be applied to the two SMART Skills Centres that will be launched in the current financial year in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. These centres must ensure that we place our TVET graduates for in-service training, learnerships and internships as President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his 2022 State of the Nation Address that the government must place 10 000 unemployed TVET graduates for in-service training. In all our project conceptualisation, integrated delivery models that work at district and regional levels and that enable PSET institutions in common localities to work with each other as well as with public and private enterprises, social structures and the communities they serve as well as with local, district and provincial government will always ensure that we create articulated, seamless, responsive development opportunities to the benefit of our economy.” Address by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, at the launch of the CHIETA SMART Skills Centre, Saldanha Bay, 25 October 2022. Service magazine | 21

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