Shaping The Future Together - Business Media MAGS

Sunday Times Skills PR

Shaping The Future Together

At the end of every year, hundreds of thousands of matriculants eagerly start planning their futures. Unfortunately, only a small proportion have access to higher education, with most trying to find jobs immediately.

By: Johan Engelbrecht, Group CEO, Atvance Academy

As a result, South Africa has developed a growing gap between the skills needed by business and the capabilities of young job seekers. In addition, the economy has not grown fast enough to create the volume of jobs needed to accommodate South Africa’s youth – even before the coronavirus pandemic brought everything to an abrupt halt.

The stats are sobering: Right now, 8.2 million young South Africans are actively looking for a job but can’t find one. More than 30% of young South Africans aged between 15 and 24 are not in any form of employment, education or training. And yet, 36% – 20.4 million – of the population is under the age of 35. These figures are set to multiply as the effects of the lockdown continue to be felt.

Late last year, a number of reports which highlighted the growing crisis among young job seekers were released. According to Statistics South Africa’s (Stats SA), the third quarter of 2019 showed that unemployment rose by 0.1% from the previous quarter to hit 29.1% – the highest level recorded since Stats SA started keeping track in 2008.

Our unemployment rate is terrible even in comparison with similar emerging economies. Nigeria has a 23.1% unemployment rate, Turkey’s is 14% percent, and Brazil, India, Russia and China have unemployment rates of 11.6%, 8.5%, 4.6% and 3.6%, respectively. We will have to wait and see how these figures change once South Africa starts recovering from the closure of the economy, but there’s no doubt that we will have some of the highest numbers of unemployed in the world.

This is obviously unsustainable, and is one of the biggest hindrances to South Africa achieving stronger economic growth – not to mention the fact that millions of young people are rapidly losing hope and surviving on social grants. While there are a number of programmes available to the youth to help them find jobs, very few provide the skills that are in demand by corporate South Africa, and even fewer work with communities to enable young people to access further education.

This is why we formed Atvance Academy. We work with community leaders, community centres, libraries and schools to empower and educate – and uplift the community as a whole. Helping to create change through free accredited training, we offer young people who have no other access to further education a chance at a better life.

A 51% black-owned, Level 2 B-BBEE and SAQA Accredited organisation, Atvance Academy offers bursaries, learnerships, apprenticeships, and work integrated learning at 172 rapidly growing campuses across South Africa. We have 30 000 learners attending our accredited training courses every month, at no cost to them.

This is enabled through partnerships with businesses across the country, many of whom have employed Atvance Academy graduates. This model has proved so successful that many companies have included us in their long-term plans.

It’s win-win. Through corporate support, we are able to change the lives of thousands of young people every year, providing access to opportunities and a chance for a better life. The companies that support us gain improved B-BBEE levels due to the impact that our initiative has on the various pillars of the B-BBEE codes – Preferential Procurement, Skills Development and with extended application to Socio-Economic Development.

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