Unemployment is a growing problem in South Africa, with recent figures from Stats SA, claiming the unemployment rate has increased to 29% in the second quarter of 2019, up from 27,6% in the period before.
“The youth are facing a crisis with regards to unemployment.” says Gary Bannatyne, MD and co-founder of The Digital Academy. “The research revealed that nearly 40% of South Africa’s unemployed are first-time job seekers, and a staggering 69% of young people under the age of 24 are unemployed.”
Moreover, he says the unemployment situation is compounded by a struggling education system and a weak economy. “We need to turn the economy around, and this has to start with completely overhauling our education system and introducing new ways of learning that will translate into real job opportunities.”
There is an undeniable link between skills and employment, he adds. “According to the latest stats, among high-skilled individuals, unemployment is only at 2,3%, which has led to skills development being identified as a national priority.”
This, says Bannatyne is why The Digital Academy has developed a tertiary education alternative institution called Level Up with it’s six-month ‘WorkReady’ course aimed at equipping South Africa’s youth with all the skills they need to get real work opportunities and begin their journey in today’s digital economy.
“Let’s look at the facts. A full three out of five children who start school do not complete grade 12. This is mainly because it has been shown that finishing school does not really improve their chances of finding a job. In fact, the difference between the percentage of unemployed people who have a matric, and those who don’t, is negligible.
“Moreover, the number of unemployed graduates is alarming. We have to question whether our education system is teaching our youth the right things.”
He says the Digital Academy believes that there is a lot more to skills than formal education on its own. “For SA’s youth, the future of education does not only lie in the traditional route alone. In today’s digital world, there is a much stronger focus on developing skills that are relevant to what the industry needs at present, not what it might need in a few years’ time, if at all.”
Level Up offers practical skills and training that results in meaningful employment at the end. It helps them to develop practical skills that are relevant to what the job market wants, evolving with industry needs, while exploring new ways of learning.
In addition, he says the most crucial type of skills are acquired while on the job, in a workplace setting. Once employed, an individual then gains a range of skills, including personal, social, technical and economic, that will help them in their careers moving forward. “With Level Up, students learn practical, hands-on development skills that are needed in the real world and 87% of graduates are placed into jobs.
“It is clear that our current system of education is archaic and struggling to equip our youth with the skills they need to truly improve their prospects of entry level employment, and since the government’s skills development initiatives have had little to no impact on our unemployment rates, it is up to organisations like ours to offer a different solution, and help find our youth work,” he adds.
Courses like Level Up’s ‘WorkReady’ are the future of education in SA today for entry level skills in the development space. “These courses are affordable, not too long, and have been carefully curated to provide the most relevant skills for any individual who is looking to pursue a career in the software industry.”