This has probably been a dialogue for many years. With the unemployment statistics in South Africa hiking up so much, we are yet to have this chat again. We hope this blog sheds some light on business owners, even small business owners – just how they can help support school leavers as they prepare for the work environment.
There’s a gap we need to bridge between students graduating – finding work. We have so many graduates yet no opportunities. Could it be that they are not workplace ready? Is it a skill problem? Are schools not teaching the skills that are needed in the real world? Are some skills useless in this ever-changing world of technology? So many questions. But these questions need answers if we want to grow as a country. Businesses will not hire a person that won’t increase productivity or help grow the business in any way.
South Africa has graduate unemployment of 12.5% – 22.4 percentage points lower than the national official unemployment rate.
High school is when learners start thinking about life after school as they also apply to tertiary institutions. Choosing a course can also be tricky, technology is advancing every day – making some skills less needed by humans, we live in an automated world. Things like basic admin and customer inquiries can be taken care of by a robot. In as much as businesses might discriminate against school leavers with no required workplace skills, businesses are also responsible for equipping those school leavers with the skills that they might look for.
..moving right along, let’s look at a few practical ways in which businesses can intervene.
3 sustainable ways in which businesses can assist school leavers prepare for the work environment
(1) Job shadowing programs for teens – this has been around for quite some time. This is where businesses use the art of apprenticeship to show the students new itineraries for jobs. This is essentially done during spring break, sometimes even on weekends.
The great thing about Job Shadowing is that learners can start while they are young – this is a time where they are getting prepared for life after school and still trying to figure things out in terms of their interests, capabilities, and so on. At this time, test, break and make. There’s still have time to think about passions and plan out what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
(2) Introducing programs that will help the teachers and students to understand what the companies need. This needs both the school and the business to work closely in order to find time and resources to make this kind of program succeed. This is what we touched on briefly in our introduction. It’s inevitable that times are changing, and therefore new skills are needed. 10 years ago, people didn’t make money off social media management, in fact, the career didn’t exist. In today’s time, people make 6 figures from it – it’s a career, and brands/businesses employ them every other day. Perhaps the next point can be an action step towards achieving this:
(3) They can speak at school student assemblies and advise employment opportunities and offer them the tools needed for a specific job – partner with local businesses to see what skills are in high demand and short supply. Some schools do have career days where learners dress up as their future selves working in their dream jobs, while other schools bring in professionals/experts to talk to the learners about career choices. This should be an annual thing in schools, especially for Grade 10’s or even Grade 9 when they are still making a choice about which subject stream to choose. They can create training programs to give not only graduates but also high school learners to equip them with the skills in those jobs with a path to a job at those companies.