The BRICS Leaders’ Summit is convened annually to discuss political and socio-economic coordination. According to account director, Leandra Moodley, the theme for the 10th annual BRICS Summit was ‘BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution’ and aimed to reflect the priorities of the BRICS members. “The agency was briefed to assist Brand South Africa and the Department of Trade and Industry with the BRICS Business Forum, one of several events making up the BRICS Leaders’ Summit,” she adds.
“Its responsibility was the creative curatorship and delivery of an event for 1 200 delegates that included a panel discussion session in the afternoon and a cocktail party in the evening. Attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chinese President Xi Jinping, it was critical that the creative design and execution projected for South Africa as a highly industrialised country embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” she says.
“It was a challenging task, addressed within a very tight time frame,” she adds. “However, it was highly successful, and we are thrilled to have been able to contribute so positively to South Africa’s role and image within the BRICS community.”
In May Statistics SA released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey, which revealed that one in three young South Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 were disengaged from the labour market.
Put another way, 32.4% of the 10.3 million people in that age group were “not in employment, education or training in the first quarter of 2018”. That’s 3.3 million young people sitting at home, idle.
Unemployment is a structural issue which has seen little improvement in recent years and is one of the four critical dimensions impeding the country’s ability to improve socio-economic well-being. The other three being education, income inequality and health care.
Poor education results in a lack of skills, which contributes to high unemployment. High unemployment fosters income inequality and slow economic growth, which in turn limit access to, and funding for, education; access to and funding for health care are similarly imperilled.
Unemployment among the youth is an even more complicated and layered challenge.
South Africa’s youth presents the best opportunity for addressing ingrained poverty and socio-economic challenges in the country.
An employed, and economically active youth, represents the best opportunity for long-term sustained economic growth.
While the reality is that employment opportunities remain limited, there are ways that young people can make themselves more employable or create employment opportunities.
* Entrepreneurship as a way to create jobs:
Most young people don’t think of entrepreneurship as a career but starting, and successfully managing, your own business will not only ensure you of an income; it could lead to job creation for other people in your community.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitors 2017/2018 report, total early-stage entrepreneurial activity in South Africa is at 11%, 4.1% points higher than 2016’s 6.9%. This is the highest activity level of people taking steps to start a new business since 2013.
While this is positive, South Africa’s Small Medium and Micro Enterprises space remains constrained by poor access to credit, bureaucratic red tape, and policies that discourage entrepreneurship. Governments and the private sector need to examine ways to ensure that these barriers to entry are dismantled, especially when it comes to empowering young people.
For the youth, identifying an opportunity to provide a service or product in their community is just the first step. Growing and nurturing a business takes patience and skill.
* Fighting unemployment and creating new skills through vocational training:
There is an obvious need for South Africa to strengthen its vocational training. This country needs more artisans and people in technical jobs. Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) has the potential to both close skills gaps and reduce unemployment.
According to a report from global skills development company City and Guilds Group, a survey of South African chief executives found that 36% were extremely concerned about the availability of key skills, compared to a global average of 17%.
Minister of Higher Education and Training Naledi Pandor recently announced that TVET colleges were at the forefront of providing education and training options for our youth and that the bursary allocation for TVET colleges has increased from R2.437billion in 2017 to [...]
President Cyril Ramaphosa responded to this at an ANC lekgotla, announcing that the ruling party will tell government “to move with urgency to develop and implement a stimulus package to ignite growth that will lead to the creation of jobs, especially for young people and women”.
But eyes should also be on corporate South Africa to see how it will respond to these latest numbers.
One initiative that has quickly gained traction is the Mandela Centenary Campaign, whose vision is to raise R100 million for job creation and literacy in the year of what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday.
It’s the brainchild of South African social enterprise, the Relate Trust, and kicked off at the end of March 2018. The project has two main aims: to create earning opportunities for unskilled people (who make the special centenary bracelets) and to fund the Mandela Library project (with the proceeds from the sale of these bracelets).
In just four months, the initiative has secured partnerships with several big businesses who looked beyond 67 minutes on Mandela Day in favour of being part of a vision that will have a long-term effect on thousands of South Africans.
The Relate Trust raises funds for other NGOs, while empowering some of South Africa’s poorest communities. Their unique business model is a proven success as it has raised more than R50 million for over 120 charities globally, while creating thousands of jobs in the process.
Relate CEO, Neil Robinson, says that in terms of stepping up job creation efforts, the centenary campaign is crucial: “The number of people between the ages of 15 and 34 not in education, training or employment increased to 39.3%, or four out of ten, in the second quarter of this year. This is a crisis that needs to be addressed now. We offer a simple and tangible solution for individuals and companies to make a real difference by coming on board, as other major brands have done.”
The companies who have already partnered with the Relate Trust come from a number of sectors and include Pick n Pay, Protea Hotels by Marriott, Woolworths, South32 (formerly BHP Billiton), and Comair, among others.
‘A national priority’
South32 Chief Operating Officer, Mike Fraser, says that the Mandela Centenary campaign supports the company’s commitment to making a difference in communities. The mining group has gifted thousands of bracelets to their staff across the country.
“Every year for Mandela Day, our people come together to help alleviate poverty by taking time out to serve and assist various charitable organisations in our communities. This year, we’re proud to support this cause which makes a difference and improves lives now and for generations to come, by giving our employees a special bracelet that honours Nelson Mandela’s centenary and legacy,” Fraser said.
Comair’s Head of Corporate Communications, Susan van der Ryst, says job creation should be the focus of every South African: “Creating employment and ensuring that young people have the knowledge and abilities to take up these jobs and thrive, or create their own opportunities, must [...]