It’s Youth Month in South Africa, and what better opportunity to look at how to empower the workforce of the future? At Job Crystal, we’re passionate about making a dent in unemployment, and that includes investing in the workers that aren’t workers yet. Here’s how you as a business owner can invest in the future workforce.
1. Invest in Education & Skills Development
One of the key ways to empower our young workforce is by investing in education. This may mean supporting initiatives that are aimed at enhancing the quality of education in the country and making sure it aligns with the needs of the job market. It may mean investing in school programmes that aim to provide leadership, entrepreneurial, and vocational skills outside of the regular curriculum. You may want to invest in programmes that bridge the gap between education and employment, making sure that the transition from student to employee is as seamless as possible.
However you want to go about it, enhancing education is a vital step. Nelson Mandela said it best:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
2. Promote Entrepreneurship in the Future Workforce
Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of our country’s economy. Mike Anderson, NSBC Founder and CEO had this to say on the topic:
“South Africa has hundreds of thousands of small businesses – so many that they contribute over 40% of our country’s gross domestic product and employ two-thirds of all South African workers. This means that, the more support they receive, the more people they can employ, and the more successful our country becomes.”
There are many ways to promote entrepreneurship, but 3 key ways are:
- Mentorship – developing the skill and potential of future entrepreneurs by working closely with them, teaching them vital skills, providing experience, creating networking opportunities, and sharing knowledge.
- Investing – this could mean investing capital into a promising idea yourself, or else by fostering opportunities for others to invest in a promising idea. It can cost a lot to raise capital, so by helping with this barrier, you help budding business owners get their ideas off the ground.
- Providing business development services – if you’re not able to invest in pure capital, another way you can invest is by providing programmes, initiatives, and opportunities that equip entrepreneurs to run with their ideas. By doing things like helping set up business plans, providing legal counsel, giving financial and tax advice, and management training (to name a few), you help make the learning curve less steep for new business owners.
3. Invest in Growing Industries
To support the future workforce, you must know where the future of work is. This could mean investing capital into businesses into growing sectors. It could also mean building relationships, networking, and partnering with businesses in these sectors. Here are some of the fastest-growing sectors in South Africa:
- Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare
- Transport and Logistics
- Finance and Banking
- Communications and Information Technology
- Finance and Banking
- Agriculture and Agro-Processing
- Fashion and Beauty
- Real Estate
By focusing on working with and empowering these industries, you help ensure that new job opportunities are created and developed. This means by the time new people enter the workforce, there are ample opportunities for them to choose from.
4. Address Socioeconomic Barriers in the Future Workforce
This can be as simple as investing time or resources into empowering disadvantaged youth. Or it could mean making sure that you’re eliminating as many socioeconomic barriers as possible when it comes to hiring. Find and work with organisations that provide opportunities to youth who might not otherwise have those opportunities (The Kay Mason Foundation is a great example). And when hiring, put measures in place to eliminate things like hiring bias as much as possible (tools like Crystal AI can help with that).
South Africa is still a country with huge inequality between its wealthiest and most impoverished citizens. To ensure that we do our best for our future workforce, we need to address it head-on.
5. Provide Flexible Work Opportunities for the Future Workforce
A huge barrier to students hoping to study further after school to better their prospects is that they can’t afford to study without working. Often this leads to not being able to study at all if the demands of their job become too intense. One simple way business owners can address this is by offering flexible working opportunities, taking things like study leave, class time, and projects into account. Not only are you providing opportunities for people to support themselves while getting a tertiary education, but you’re also providing valuable work experience. This will help them when they fully integrate with the workforce down the line.
Empowering the future workforce in South Africa requires a collective effort from business owners and society as a whole. By taking these steps, we can ensure that the future workforce of South Africa has the necessary tools, support, and opportunities to thrive in the job market and contribute to the nation’s economic growth. Together, let’s invest in the workforce of tomorrow and build a more inclusive and prosperous South Africa.