By Sandile Mncwabe
This June 16 kicks off the 47th anniversary of the Soweto uprising of 1976, reflecting back on the resilience and tragedies suffered by our young people under the apartheid regime. This year’s theme focuses on accelerating collaborations and opportunities to improve the lives of the youth.
The young people of today continue to demonstrate resilience in the face of high unemployment, inequality, a lack of skills development opportunities and constrained education attainment. The emergence of entrepreneurship, innovation as well as the acceptance of technology and information represent among a few dynamic attributes of our young people in their determination and creativity in creating a brighter future for themselves.
I look back at my own journey in becoming a black male Charted Accountant and working in one of South Africa’s rising industry players in energy and infrastructure, Mahlako A Phahla Investments. I recognise not only my own efforts, but also the unity of us young people in mobilising for social change in movements such as ‘’fees must fall’’. Additionally, we foster mutual empowerment by actively sharing knowledge, information, and opportunities within our diverse networks and hubs. The ambitious spirit of the youth under adversity continues to live on from our predecessors of 1976 and apartheid.
However, the need for further interventions from both government and the private sector in bridging the gap and supporting young people in harnessing their full potential in participating in the economy, is one that grows more eminent with each passing year. A prominent challenge for the youth has been the barriers of entry to the labour market, and addressing it requires concerted efforts and partnerships between private and public spheres to produce an alignment between fundamental learning and the skills required in the evolving jobs of today. In addition, fostering a culture in recruitment practices of prioritizing the training and learning of promising candidates that have little to no experience, goes a long way in closing our county’s epidemic skills gap.
Finally, although the development of the Skills Development Act and B-BBEE code of good practice has made great strides in incentivizing social investment from corporates for the upliftment of our youth, the business strategies of our corporates should also recognize the highly impactful intrinsic rewards of skills development within their youth workforce for the sustainability of their operations.
Happy Youth Month! in recognition of the ambitious spirits of our youth, in honor of the sacrifices of the youth of our past and in the advancement of our young people.