A new mindset and culture are needed to match the thousands of unemployed young people to the jobs available in the IT industry.

There are currently 829 000 jobs that are vacant for highly-skilled workers in South Africa, most notably in the medical, accounting, engineering and IT fields.

Of the 1 034 762 grade 10 learners in 2010, only 623 897 made it through to Grade 12 in 2012; of these 623 897 learners, 461 060 obtained their National Senior Certificate, while only 165 957 received university endorsement, with a significantly lower number actually enrolling for any form of higher education in 2013.

And of those, only 15% to 20% will actually graduate, according to the Department of Higher Education and Training’s first annual statistical report.

Enrico Jacobs, vice-chancellor of private IT education institution Belgium Campus, believes that South Africa’s growing economy requires graduates that are radically different to what our schools and universities are producing.

“The reality is that there is a high demand for a small group of individuals with the right skills sets, while a much larger group of young people languish in the despair of unemployment because their skills and the demands of the industry and regional economies are misaligned,” says Jacobs.

He believes that, to address the issue of matching the right skills to the actual demands of the economy and region requires a new pedagogical model that has the needs of various stakeholders in mind, known as the Participative Development Model. It represents both a mind-set and a culture that brings together the needs of the most important stakeholders – students, academia, business, the region and government.

The Participative Development model takes all stakeholders into account:
* Students – delivering the right skills, attitudes and discipline for learners;
* Business – engaging with business to ensure that education meets the needs of the industry and local regions;
* Regional role players – the ability of a tertiary education provider to deliver graduates with the skills that make them relevant to the demands of the local economy;
* Academia – understanding the importance of setting standards, creating a relevant curriculum and ability to assess the exit level outcomes; and
* Government – plays a crucial role in the education of our youth and setting the tone for engagement between different stakeholders.

“The key factor when developing the curriculum is the employability of graduates, and in turn, their ability to add value immediately in the business context,” Jacobs says.

“In order to achieve this, there needs to be close cooperation with business. The end result is a qualified individual that complements the work environment, possesses more than just theoretical knowledge, but soft skills and business skills that are a quintessential part of a graduate that adds value from day one.”