Accelerating job creation, a conundrum!

25 February 2015 Sandra Dunn, INSETA
Sandra Dunn, INSETA’s CEO.

Sandra Dunn, INSETA’s CEO.

Ernest Ngwenya (right), owner of Pfunani Funeral Services, with Gcibelo Sibanyoni, who is an intern with the company.

Ernest Ngwenya (right), owner of Pfunani Funeral Services, with Gcibelo Sibanyoni, who is an intern with the company.

South Africa, and indeed every single country in the world, has its back against the wall when it comes to keeping pace or creating more jobs than what are required in today’s (and tomorrow’s) labour markets.

It’s particularly youth unemployment, including jobless young graduates that is proving to be an extremely tough challenge for political and business leaders the world over. Even countries such as China and India are agonising about providing not only sufficient, but also decent jobs for their huge number of young people. While an estimated youth unemployment rate of around 10% for both these countries might not sound very high, in absolute numbers, these rates translate to millions of young people being unemployed!

The Economist says around the world almost 300 million 15- to 24-year-olds are not working. The countless number of young persons lives that are being affected, is staggering and very difficult to comprehend.

South Africa has a growing number of unemployed graduates, forced to try and find work overseas, or rely on their families to support them and/or find jobs locally in low paying vocations such as waiters, drivers, call centres, and the like or start their own business. The tragedy is, most of them will not be gainfully employed. Moreover, for most graduates, a call centre job cannot be the career they dreamed about.

The City Press on 16 June 2012 reported, “University degrees or diplomas no longer hold the promise of jobs for young South Africans as hundreds of thousands of them battle to find work.” In the same article, labour market analyst Loane Sharp is quoted, saying, “About 600 000 university graduates are languishing at home, unable to put into practice what they have learned.”

Geographically, these graduates are not just limited to SAs metropolitan areas. In areas such as Ermelo and Standerton, both in Mpumalanga, youth unemployment is estimated at 35%. The perception is that there is very little scope in these areas to employ more graduates.

INSETA and Gert Sibande TVET College are making a difference

INSETA’s CEO, Sandra Dunn says, ”Business leaders and institutions such as INSETA; and tertiary institutions such as the technical vocational education and training (TVET) colleges need to look more carefully where we can optimise efficiencies – one such obvious area is the role that TVET colleges in partnership with small businesses can play to help ameliorate youth unemployment in their local areas. The focus is to partner with small companies such as funeral assistance businesses in non-metropolitan areas and encourage each business to to place at least one graduate.”

“We have demonstrated that one way of dealing with the unemployed TVET graduate crisis is to get more employers who have never hosted learners to take more TVET graduates. Once they reap the benefits of hosting learners, they inevitable want to take on board as many interns as possible.”

In what is a first in the country to begin to address the problem of unemployed TVET college graduates, focusing on small businesses in non-metro areas, INSETA funds an internship programme for Gert Sibande’s college’s graduates (in Mpumalanga) interested in pursuing careers in the financial sector, partnering with small businesses in the area.

Dunn says, “This is a real first. INSETA and Gert Sibande college are trying to help deal with the problem of unemployed TVET graduates by facilitating the placement for them with small businesses in the non-metro areas and not corporates. The college is doing all the administration for the placement and this frees up the small business to get on with the business of making money and growing the economy.”

Dunn lauds the leadership demonstrated by Gert Sibande college. “The college has mustered a sterling performance to date in providing a seamless and professional management service for the partnership. In so doing, the college will no doubt become an institution of choice for learners, which is an important part of the Minister’s (of Higher and Education and Training) vision.”

INSETA is hoping that there will be longer term commitments which will see a steady flow of placements to the insurance sector where TVET graduates will be able to obtain valuable work experience.

Dunn believes the TVET colleges can expand its support for small businesses in the area.

“The colleges have facilities, equipment, computers, access to the internet, people, administration, etc; while the small businesses are in dire need of these resources. With this project we have only scratched the surface of what is a vast leveraging potential for local economic growth and job creation. At the local level, we should be aggressively exploring research and development, product innovation, systems improvement, inventions, etc. Hopefully our project will be a catalyst that unlocks the full potential of the TVET colleges and local business in the non-metro areas,” explains Dunn.

This is one of many ways in which INSETA impacts and touches lives significantly and improving the lives of learners who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Dunn, on behalf of INSETA expressed her thanks to the following employer companies for opening their doors and hosting the learners in an internship programme:

A total number of 20 learners are hosted by different employers in the Ermelo and Standerton areas who specialise in the financial sector. Through Workplace Based Experience (WBE) these learners are prepared for employability, they are able to understand the dynamics of the workplace in their chosen fields of study and career paths. WBE is a powerful model to give learners the opportunity to merge the theory component of their studies and the workplace environment through practical work experience. The model also benefits the employer hosting the learners to gauge the quality of the learners and the qualifications they hold.

Even if these learners do not gain employment with the companies they are placed in, INSETA believes that the sector gains a solid foundation of skilled, experienced individuals, and gives them an opportunity to accelerate their careers and at the same time provide the country with a desperately needed skilled workforce.


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