Our youth will be tomorrow’s leaders. This is something we frequently hear, but how are we preparing them?
South Africa is a nation with many issues, and the ongoing problems that South African youth face today are extremely troubling. In this article, we speak to industry experts and ask them how we can help prepare our children for the future.
Future-proofing youth with software development skills
The most in-demand expertise and one of the most challenging sets of skills to get on the South African market actually remain inside the software development field. Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager, Africa at technology firm Zoho, believes that “With low-code platforms, citizen developers can create complex and powerful business applications without requiring costly and lengthy training. In the year ahead, universities must ensure that educators are equipped with the skills to train youth for the demands of the technological world.
“We need to future-proof children so that they are equipped to apply for jobs that require digital and development skills,” adds Bourne “And we can help do this by ensuring that educators also have the skills to encourage children to become more digitally literate.
Nurture the creative potential of the youth
In order to sustain growth in any industry, employers and established professionals need to nurture the creative potential of the youth. Anton Gillis, CEO at Kruger Gate Hotel, believes that one of the key aspects to growing tomorrow’s talent is fostering an engaging approach to working with young people. “It’s amazing what we can stand to learn while engaging with the youth; no one will teach you about social media or online platform developments quicker than them. In an effort to prepare the youth for their future, we should work with them. Within this collaborative strategy, we can benefit from fresh perspectives, and they can gain expert advice,” states Gillis.
Teach sustainable farming
As world hunger looms, the impact of agriculture on addressing food shortages cannot be underestimated. Teaching the youth about a more sustainable food chain is imperative, and one entrepreneur intent on doing so is Rick Hein, MD of MicroThumbs. As a supplier of microgreens to retailers nationwide, Hein has established a small, indoor, vertical farming model at Alberton High School in Gauteng, where pupils learn to grow their own food.
“The world’s food supply-to-demand ratio is increasingly becoming unbalanced, and globally, we’re running out of space to keep up. By showing young people how to grow food in small urban areas, they learn about food security and self-sufficiency and are given lifelong skills on how to survive eating healthy foods they’ve grown themselves,” he says. Hein’s aim is to roll out the urban farm model in schools across South Africa. “Growing food connects young people to nature and fosters a future stewardship of the natural world; it’s a priceless lesson to learn for the uncertain world of tomorrow.”
Educate on the importance of saving
It’s never too soon to start talking to children about the importance of saving and thinking about their future. By teaching children the value of money and the benefit of saving for big-ticket items like a car or a home, you will set them up to be financially stable later in life, says Carl Coetzee, CEO of BetterBond.
Young adults need to know that they should consider investing in property as soon as they are financially able to do so. Advise them to think about setting aside money for a deposit so that they pay less each month on their bond, save on interest over the long term, and ensure that they consider the benefits of owning rather than renting, advises Coetzee. “Renting may suit their lifestyle, but having property as an asset is a long-term investment. Homeownership may seem like something only grownups do, but by explaining the basics of buying a home from an early age, you will help lay the foundation that will ensure your children make sound financial decisions when the time comes for them to invest in property,” concludes Coetzee.
A reading youth is a capable youth
South Africa’s greatest asset lies in its young people. They are the future entrepreneurs, innovators, and job creators. With boundless potential and fresh perspectives, young South Africans have the potential to drive transformative change. However, we must fix the alarming drop in literacy levels in the country. South Africa ranked last out of 57 countries assessed in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, which tested the reading ability of 400,000 students globally in 2021. Illiteracy among South African children rose from 78% in 2016 to 81% in 2021.
“One way of achieving this is by taking advantage of the mobile technology advancements we have made as a country. Currently, some 95% of South Africans have access to a mobile phone, and smartphone penetration in the country has surpassed 90%. We should be able to contribute to changing this situation by making sure that reading material on digital and mobile devices reaches young people in order to help us cultivate a reading culture,” says Lea-Anne Moses, Executive Director and Trustee at the Fundza Literacy Trust.
Empower the youth with digital skills
Ensuring that young people entering the workforce are equipped with the right skills needed to thrive in the new, digitally transformed world of work should be a key focus this International Youth Day, and indeed every day.
“Achieving this requires a holistic, integrated approach that is focussed on fit-for-purpose skills and whole-person development. It also requires the collective effort of stakeholders across industries, because business should be a platform for change,” says Ursula Fear, Senior Talent Program Manager at Salesforce
Empowering young people with the right digital skills, together with an agile approach to learning, is central to combating unemployment both today and into the future.
Support a balanced lifestyle
Supporting a balanced lifestyle is a very important consideration for South African youth. In a world where things are becoming more and more complicated, the youth don’t like to be overly complicated. Instead, they are patently leaning towards simplicity. They want things that are easy to use, dependable, last, and give them exactly what they need. A simple phone, for example, that offers calling and messaging, a torch, some games, and a very-long lasting battery This young market is seeing a simple device like the Nokia 105 that is taking them back to that safe and simple past and stripping them away from an overcomplicated lifestyle. And a brand that supports this holistic approach to life is one that this market wants to be associated with.