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Change the world


On 27 April 2024 South Africa celebrated 30 years as a democratic country and many reflected on our advancement, growth and development to date. 


By Paul Geswindt, Director: Alumni Relations

As a country we can celebrate certain achievements, but we need to be concerned about major issues, such as the high unemployment rate (32%.1% 4th quarter 2023 Stats SA) and a youth unemployment rate of 44.3%.

As we celebrate Worker’s Day, we need to reflect on the role we can play as individuals, interest groups and organisations in supporting the development of our national knowledge and skills base.

In 2021 (DHET fact sheet 2022) 5.4% of the population aged between 25 and 64 years had a diploma, 5.9% had a degree and 31.9% had a grade 12 or equivalent certificate. The matric certificate, diploma or degree, do not guarantee a job and many individuals struggle to get an opportunity to learn a skill or develop a range of skills in an environment where job opportunities are limited.

It is true that developing entrepreneurial skills and “setting up shop” can be a consideration, but it does not guarantee business success. The era of artificial intelligence, automation and robotics also limits job market expansion in many ways. So, we are left with the question, how can we as individuals and organisations make a difference in such a difficult environment?

There is a responsibility on both those seeking and offering opportunities, which can be empowering to both parties. Many individuals have approached other individuals and companies and offered their time and assistance to be exposed to a working environment. In some cases, this valuable experience often led to job opportunities, especially also motivated by the attitude and character of the individual willing to learn. Such situations should, however, not be exploited.

Mentorship and coaching opportunities can also help with personal development at various life and career stages. Learning about the value of mentoring can be of value to both the mentor and mentee. Once again, certain principles and rules can help guide both parties so that the experience can be truly beneficial. Some individuals have more than one mentor concentrating on different aspects of their career and life, for example, someone might be looking for a role model who successfully balanced career and family life.

We often forget the skills we can learn by volunteering in our communities, such as the church or community development organisations. Involvement in sport, arts and culture, and other extra-mural activities also help develop skills and build networks.

Whether for the employment or product and service market, the question will always be: What do you have to offer (the personal value proposition), which someone else cannot offer better and cheaper? Unfortunately, this is part of the supply and demand market realities and the reason why it is important to constantly upgrade our skill and knowledge levels. Our work ethic, values, time management, communication and people skills, are all part of the total package. 

Organisations can consider more shadow learning, work integrated learning opportunities, internships, apprenticeships and job opportunities, to grow the knowledge and skills base. Sponsoring a bursary, skills course or hosting a group training session are all ways to share and pay forward. As individuals we can be of service to society by helping develop ourselves and each other.

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160