As Africa strives to become a leading innovator of digital technology and content over the next few years, a number of employment and entrepreneurship opportunities exist for our youth – if they are able to adapt to changing economic needs and grow the necessary skills to render services and products aligned to this.
This is according to Jayshree Naidoo, head of the Standard Bank Incubator, who points out that South Africa now ranks sixth amongst the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies, and it is predicted that 59% of our youth will have a secondary education by 2030. However, despite the fact that increasingly more young people have access to education, currently only 50% of them have jobs. Of the 50% who remain unemployed, at least 600 000 are graduates.
It is predicted that the unemployment rate will continue to rise unless individuals, educational facilities and corporations adapt to technology in a functional manner.
“This is because technology plays an integral role in every industry, and only those who equip themselves with the skills and mind-set to be a part of this revolution stand a chance at remaining relevant and thus surviving in this economy,” says Naidoo.
Big companies who are afraid of upsetting the status quo may need disruptors to stay relevant; some of these disruptors include a change in how they are run.
“An example of this would be creating an integrated structure that works differently from their typical pyramid operating model to encourage feelings of inclusion, ownership and pride in the organisation’s employees. This type of culture may prompt individuals to produce better work.”
Recent trends suggest that companies employ more creative individuals to drive their businesses, because it is believed that this type of person thinks conceptually and differently; they have the ability to see the bigger picture and are better able to roadmap the path to get there.
“Being an entrepreneur doesn’t only apply to those who have started their own business, it now also applies to those who make changes within their teams or organisation for its betterment.
“The new business success model requires more people to become entrepreneurs. They need to be adaptable, have the right attitude and aptitude for a particular task, and, most importantly, the aspiration to become the highest expression of themselves to create opportunities for themselves in an innovative digital technology era,” Naidoo explains.
The leaders of the future are also anticipated to have the following characteristics:
• Tomorrow’s leaders are expected to be unique, flexible, selfless and ready to collaborate with those around them.
• They will be accountable for their own work, but able to create other leaders – not followers – in those they work with and for.
• They will seize opportunities to better their skills for their own companies or within the companies they work for.
How then, does a young person, develop the skills to adapt to South Africa’s changing needs?
“Well, now that you know where the business world is moving, you cannot wait; you have to make a purposeful decision to become relevant by pursuing opportunities.  You need to expand your skills-set to include innovative and creative thinking,” says Naidoo.
While the road to success isn’t paved in gold, and even the most successful entrepreneurs have failed or lost everything somewhere along the way, the secret to their success was that, like Standard Bank, they never stopped moving forward because of an obstacle.
Naidoo says that the skills acquired by young people need to be relevant for the world of tomorrow.
For a young person, entering the business world is daunting and challenging, but by applying your skills to a need in a specific market and then finding ways to grow that need, you can claim long-lasting success.