Award-winning private tertiary education provider CTU Training Solutions recently held an online panel discussion titled “Young South Africa Leading the Future.”
The panel was hosted by voice artist, actor, MC, and content creator Themba Robin, and featured prominent young business leaders, entrepreneurs, and economists.
CTU Training Solutions is passionate about upskilling and equipping South African youth to build a sustainable future, and held this online event to provide a platform for experts to tackle the challenges young South Africans face.
The panellists agreed that unemployment is a huge issue in South Africa, and a significant contributor to this is the large skills gap in the country.
To close the gap, young South Africans must take whatever opportunities they can to develop different skills and monetise them.
The panel identified opportunities in fields like social media, digital technologies, the crypto industry, and even filling in potholes.
“When we look at something like potholes, there are huge opportunities to create jobs while plugging the holes in our country,” said Cadena Growth Partners analyst Abdul Soondka.
Itumeleng Mokoena, an economist at Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies, suggested that the best way to solve these challenges is “just to start”.
Young South Africans must take the opportunities in front of them to get to where they want to be.
The panellists then acknowledged that while taking initiative is critical, young South Africans also need mentors to navigate the working world.
“We must adopt young people in a mentorship capacity to equip them will the skills needed to find a job in today’s economy,” said Mokoena.
This is the responsibility of more experienced members of the workforce, the panellists said, before encouraging these workers to embrace their younger colleagues.
Another important topic that was covered by the panel was South Africa’s mental health crisis.
“We need structural changes [to solve mental health challenges] that are embedded in businesses and in the way employees are treated,” said Sarah Farrell, the Managing Director at African Climate Alliance.
For example: organisations can put wellness programmes in place to tackle mental health issues in the workplace and get rid of the stigma against the illness.
Farai Mzungu, COO at Youth Health Africa, then highlighted that it is important to lean into the support systems around you and communicate with people.
The panellists agreed that the responsibility for handling the mental health crisis requires collaboration between organisations – who must provide resources – and the individuals in question – who must make use of these facilities.