It is no secret that South African youth are facing massive challenges in terms of their education, employment, and career growth.
According to Statistics South Africa, the unemployment rate in South Africa increased to 27,7% in the first quarter of 2017 from 26,5% in the previous period. It is the highest jobless rate since the first quarter of 2004, as unemployment rose faster than employment and more people joined the labour force.
ManpowerGroup South Africa’s MD, Lyndy van den Barselaar, highlights the role businesses can play in assisting to combat youth unemployment in South Africa.
South African youths, individuals that are between the ages of 15 and 34, are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than other groups. The high rate of youth unemployment represents both widespread personal misfortunes for individuals, and a lost opportunity for critical national economic development.
“While the issue of youth unemployment is multi-faceted, it is important that businesses recognise their ability in assisting to combat youth unemployment and close the skills gap between what is learned through education and what needs to be applied in the workplace,” she explains. “One of the ways this is done is through graduate programs.
“In the human age, economic success and failure is increasingly being determined by how companies and individuals strategically acquire and develop relevant skills, which highlights the importance of education and training programs as a key determinant of success in the labour market.”
ManpowerGroup South Africa, through its partnership with the Maharishi Institute, offer a graduate program that provides a work experience framework for selected graduates, and helps to create innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions for employing more young workers – both at ManpowerGroup South Africa and among its clients.
The Maharishi Institute is a non-profit organisation established in June 2007, which provides financial access to the qualifications of its education partners, which students access via distance education, while gaining work experience. The Institute enriches the distance education learning experience and makes it complete through the provision of comprehensive support services, including work experience, infrastructure access, bridging programs, and self-development programs.
“Graduate programs have the power to help young people reach their full human potential and contribute positively to enterprises and societies. Keeping the focus firmly on young South Africans, we invited a group of graduates from the Maharishi Institute who are currently participating in the ManpowerGroup 2016-2017 graduate program to share their views on the challenges facing the youth of today and their overall experience of the program,” says van den Barselaar.
When asked about overall experience of the ManpowerGroup South Africa graduate program, our graduates all agreed that it was working through different business functions and being recognised as a professional that stood out most for them. “I feel challenged in a positive space that allows me to do different things and find what I’m passionate about. I am able to learn new things each day through the work I am asked to complete,” says Sabelo Mdlalose.
“I personally have benefited a lot from this program. I have not only gained career development skills but I have grown personally – I see a huge difference between when I was a student and now. I have also benefited financially as I am now able to provide for my family and this is one of the goals I have always wanted to achieve,” says Emmah Ligunya.
Being in the program not only provides practical work experience, it also helps the graduates to make new contacts. Since they are entrusted with numerous responsibilities from the start of the program, they are in contact and dealing with key people, who can help them grow professionally. The graduates were asked how they think the program will provide them with an advantage in their life and career, going forward.
Precious Matshaba says she was able to rely on her manager to help her to settle in quickly. “I have been through several meetings and training sessions. I feel a step ahead and able to transfer all my works skills into practice.
“I fully understand what is expected and required from me and I am able to proactively manage all the tasks I need to complete in a day. Thanks to the help of my manager Vicki Marais-Swanepoel, I have become my own little boss,” she says.
Be prepared to challenge yourself is the overall motto. “As a graduate you’re offered a lot of opportunities through the program, such as dedicated training and sharing sessions; but these come with high expectations,” Mbali Nyaloko points out. “I have the advantage of being able to choose the field I would like to work in after the program. It has given me work experience that other graduates are struggling to find.”
Precious Matshaba says: “Through the Maharishi Institute I was presented the opportunity to complete a three month internship at ManpowerGroup in the Netherlands. This remarkable experience was about learning and exploring new business insights and best practices within the human resource department. I was fortunate enough to have experienced first-hand the multi-faceted approach that goes into the HR process.
“I also had the opportunity to explore the Netherlands, and learn about the Dutch culture. This was probably the most enjoyable part of my entire work experience. I am surprised at the amount of skills that I have attained and all that I was able to experience in just three months”
Jacob Senoamadi is due to travel to Frankfurt, Germany later in June as part of one of three pre-arranged trips throughout the 12-month European Graduate program.
“The purpose of this program is to assist graduates in developing an international mind-set and equip them with the necessary knowledge for their career development going forward. Personally, it is a fantastic opportunity for me to experience and learn from other young people outside of South Africa,” he says.
The graduates were asked to share advice for others considering the ManpowerGroup South Africa graduate program, or any other graduate programs or internships. Katleho Tsotetsi says, “Don’t limit yourself to only the work that is given to you; at times offering a helping hand to your mentors or supervisors can be very beneficial. Internships are for learning, and everyone has been more than happy to help me answer my seemingly endless questions.”
Van den Barselaar conclude: “I cannot stress enough how important it is that the private sector continues to play its part in enhancing the youth. They are the future leaders of South Africa, and with the right opportunities will be able to fully reach their potential – resulting in a positive outcome for the country, it’s economy, and all its citizens. Don’t wait for the next Youth Day before implementing a graduate program – the time is now.”