The current economic climate is compelling South African and global businesses alike to make organisational changes, sometimes leading to staff being retrenched. As this continues to become a reality for more and more South Africans, individuals are looking for ways to safeguard themselves from retrenchment, and the consequences thereof.
Lyndy van den Barselaar, MD of ManpowerGroup South Africa, explains. “In the modern business environment, the lifespan of skills is much shorter than before. Employees are having to constantly upskill in order to ensure they remain valuable to their employers, are able to adapt to the many technological changes facing each and every sector and make themselves more employable – especially as they face the possibility of being affected by organisational change.”
One of the ways in which individuals are upskilling themselves is through online learning platforms, such as ManpowerGroup’s PowerYou training platform, which provides free online access to thousands of online courses covering a range of topics from software applications to business, to the most in-demand programming languages like SQL, JAVA and C#. “Online platforms like this provide the opportunity for people of all ages to easily and conveniently upskill themselves, achieve certifications and ensure they remain in-the-know and employable – which not only bodes well for them, but their employers and the economy at large too,” says van den Barselaar.
The South African economy shed over 15 000 jobs in various sectors, except construction and community services in the year 2016, according to the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES: 2016). The reasons why now is a good time for individuals to look at safeguarding themselves from the impacts of retrenchment, is that the jobless rate in South Africa has not decreased.
The results of the Quarterly Employment Survey for the first quarter (2017), released by Statistics South Africa, show a decline of 48 000 jobs (or -0.5%) to 9 644 000 in the formal non-agricultural sector in the quarter (March 2017). This is a decline of 58 000 jobs when compared to the same period last year (March 2016). Quarterly employment declines were mainly driven by trade and finance & business service which lost 32 000 jobs (-1,5%) and 23 000 jobs respectively. Additional jobs losses were also observed in community and social services with 8 000 jobs (-0,3%), manufacturing industry with 4 000 jobs (-0,3%) and transport industry with 1000 jobs (-0,2%).
“Possessing transferrable skills is one of the most important factors for job seekers and employees in an uncertain economic climate, as it means they will be able to fulfil more than one role within an organisation (often safeguarding them from the retrenchment process) or that they will be able to apply for more than just one role should they find themselves looking for a job. Transferrable skills may even allow them to fulfil a role in a completely different sector or industry,” explains van den Barselaar.
As internet penetration continues to rise in the country, this form of education is expected to continue to rise in popularity. Currently around 52% of South Africa’s population is connected to the Internet in one way or another. According to a smartphone penetration report from the Pew Research Centre, conducted in 2016, South Africa has a smartphone penetration rate of 37%.
“Online learning platforms have an important role to play in the development of the current and future workforce of South Africa, and should be considered by anyone who has access to a mobile phone or any other internet-connected device. As more people become connected, more people will be able to make use of online learning platforms – making themselves employable and constantly improving their skillsets. Not only will this bode well for South Africa’s employment industry, but it will lessen the amount of South African’s being negatively affected by retrenchment fallout,” concludes van den Barselaar.