There is a concerning lack of education among South African youth and school leavers regarding the many avenues of study for viable career paths. Historically, academics spoke of ‘future proofing’ the workforce by highlighting careers of the future (coding, technology engineering, artificial intelligence etc.). These careers are now not only a reality today, but currently lack viable candidates to fill much needed positions.
There are said to be approximately 66 000 roles that could be opened and filled in South Africa’s digital economy that cannot be due to a notable gap and skills shortage. This is concerning, as the digital economy is said to be growing at least four times faster than the country’s GDP.
Shifting mindsets of current school leavers will no doubt yield positive benefits in the short-term with long-term impact for unemployment levels, by providing clarity, education, and accessibility to these new and needed career paths.
This is where it is crucial to acknowledge and embrace the commitment by private institutions in providing these skills. Private institutions are agile enough to assess changes in skills needs, develop diplomas, degrees, certificates, and short courses to address these needs, and roll them out in real time to ensure that South Africa’s youth can keep abreast of changing job needs and increase their employability.
Getting these graduates from earning to learning will not only benefit their career trajectories, but also fill the gaps left in the economy, as well as provide the skilled workforce needed across industries for economic growth and a stronger national work force.