Wednesday, 15 July marks the internationally celebrated World Youth Skills Day, strategically recognising the importance of youth skills development for creating a better tomorrow… not just for tomorrows future leaders, but for us all.
Almost one month after South Africa celebrated Youth Day, World Youth Skills Day is intended to generate awareness around youth empowerment and employment as a key driver to addressing socio-economic challenges. Skills development has the power to strengthen youth capacity, increase self-confidence and put an end poverty.
Afrika Tikkun Services CEO, Onyi Nwaneri advises, “Of course this year, we celebrate this day under tough conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent measures put in place around the world has led to an increase in the youth unemployment crisis everywhere. In fact, addressing the issue head on, the 2020 theme speaks to ‘Skills for a Resilient Youth in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond’”.
The latest Stats SA Quarterly Labour Force Survey for Q1 2020 reports that the national unemployment rate is 30.1% whilst the percentage of youth aged 15–24 years who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) is 34.1%. According to the International Labour Organisations Global Employment Trends for Youth 2020 report, only one in three youth are employed, and whilst youth unemployment rates are stable they still remain higher than that of adults.
In Nwaneri’s words, “Youth unemployment is by far one of the most pressing challenges of the modern era. The need for skills development, decreasing the school-to-work transition period and opening up economic opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship should be focus areas for curbing the youth unemployment rate”. “But how do we do this, especially now as we see the negative effects of a global pandemic? In my opinion, the answer lies in challenging young people to gain scarce and critical skills that the country is in desperate need of. The second obvious answer is in leveraging our advancement towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution to skill more and more young people for technology based and emerging careers”.
COVID-19 has demonstrated the power of technology and its ability to connect and empower people, and this is particularly true of its influence in the education and skills development sector. Distance training has become the most common way of imparting skills and according to UN Broadband Commission ‘mobile technology is key to bringing ‘education to all’’. It is necessary for creating a sustainable education infrastructure that will continue in a post pandemic world. As we know, the use of smart devices and the internet is sometimes the only tool young people have to be able to learn, update CV’s and apply for jobs.
Pre-pandemic, Afrika Tikkun Services started planning for the Fourth Industrial Revolution by recognising the need to increase connectivity, move learning online and preparing for the new jobs of the future. At the start of lockdown, the organisation was already well on its way to moving their courses online, undertaking virtual graduation ceremonies and launched a new smartphone initiative to provide learners with a smartphone and data for eLearning. This all in an effort to allow for uninterrupted learning by some of SA’s most vulnerable young people.
Afrika Tikkun Services is determined to empower young people in vulnerable communities with the right tools needed to enhance their skills and ultimately become economically active.