Panellists at EmpowaYouth Week 2023.
While exhibiting at EmpowaYouth Week at Orange Farm in May, CTU Training Solutions also participated in a roundtable on scarce skills and opportunities for youth in the banking and finance sector.
CTU Training Solutions Head of Programme, Business and Project Management, Thomas Chimutunga, participated in the panel discussion that aimed to shed light on the skills most in demand in the banking and financial sector. All of the other panellists represented the banking and financial sectors.
Skills sought in youth job applicants
Chimutunga kicked off proceedings by announcing a R50 000 bursary at CTU Training Solutions for attendees at EmpowaYouth Week. He went on to say that some of the reasons for unemployment is a lack of synergy between the skills in demand by industry and those being studied by young people. “We need to look into what skills are in demand so that we can offer those skills to the youth. We’re constantly redesigning our curriculum to keep pace with industry demand, particularly around the fourth industrial revolution.”
Brenda Kobola, Head of Talent Acquisition for the Consumer and High Net Worth Group at the Standard Bank Group, agreed: “The 4IR is definitely upon us, which means we’re looking for skills that we didn’t prioritise before. Young people have to bear this in mind when deciding what to study.
“We need to balance core banking skills with the digital skills we need to deliver services to our clients. We still need bankers, people who can talk to clients, and skills like financial literacy, etc, but the emerging skills are digital skills such as engineering, software development, data analytics, robotics and automation.”
Zanele Jafta, National Head of Digital Wealth Advisory Services at Nedbank Wealth Management SA, adds: “If we consider the skills we require now, it’s all about digital. The introduction of digital has brought with it some negatives that necessitate the need for cyber security. In order to protect the bank and its clients against cyber crime, we require skills in that space.”
Ayn Brown, Chief People Officer at Tymebank, agrees: “Digital and 4IR are here to stay. Our phones and computers rule our lives, making things quicker and faster, which obviously impacts the ability to create jobs. With the advent of AI and digital and the way they’ve taken over our lives, it does tend to exclude the human element – yet the human element has never been more important. It’s not going to be AI that takes your job, it’s going to be people who know how to use AI and computers.
“In such a fast-moving environment, I’d encourage youth to do short courses to keep pace. Curiosity and a love of learning are key qualities in a potential hire.”
Aluwani Chokoe, Deputy Director at the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development and Human Settlements, contributes: “We live in the world’s most economically unequal society in the world. We have people who don’t have access to phones or the internet, who can’t use a computer. For this reason, we need to prioritise basic computer skills delivered via home language computer training courses.”
Delivering skills to the youth
Chokoe says there are several provincial and e-government initiatives that the youth can use to upskill themselves. “It’s important to note that we need to break down the language of computer skills. We can’t talk about AI when people can’t switch on a computer. The youth can also approach the SITAs, which provide a stipend when they train people.”
Tyme Bank has plans to start an academy, according to Brown. “We enable youth employment by employing local people to man our kiosks in retail outlets. They acquire sales skills, soft skills and have the ability to earn while going through their learnerships.”
Jafta refers to the YES programme that is run by all banks. “The youth employment services programme is available to all employers. They take in graduates between the ages of 18 and 29 for a 12-month period, place them in different roles and do job rotation over the course of the year. This gives the individual an opportunity to find out what he or she is good at. After the year is up, they can apply to be permanently employed by the business.
“We also do graduate programmes that run for 24 months that also include job rotation. Youth who are offered these opportunities should grab them with both hands, be diligent, work hard and have a positive attitude so they can be absorbed into a permanent position.”
Kobola says there are plenty of opportunities for the youth to gain the prerequisite skills. “We all offer similar programmes for employed and unemployed youth. In a year, we hire about 800 graduates across three different programmes. Our graduate programme graduates with university degrees or national diplomas and offers a rotational approach to work experience, with the possibility of being hired permanently. We also offer internships aimed at filling skill gaps in the bank, which can also turn into full-time employment. Then we offer learnerships, where the individual gets work experience and an NQF-aligned qualification.”
She encourages the youth to apply for all of these programmes and steers them towards the bank’s PluggedIn tool, which helps individuals to assess their strengths and interests while creating a CV.
Navigating entry barriers and gaining practical experience
Chimutunga says as a training solutions provider, it’s important to make sure that it offers a final product that’s adaptable to the current business environment. “We need to look at the curriculum, the demands of the 4IR and ensure students have practical components and can actually do the work required by their course.”
Kobola points out that at the beginning of any recruitment process, all candidates are equal. However, as the process progresses, it funnels candidates as it starts differentiating on experience, skills and how the candidate shows up at different stages in the process. She advises the youth: “Don’t give up, keep applying and trying.”
Jafta agrees that candidates need to differentiate themselves. “Take the time to draft a proper CV, prepare for interviews – there are standard questions that you can practise ahead of time.”
Brown says the youth need to consider how they can stand apart from the crowd. “Never stop volunteering, get involved in community initiatives, don’t stop being curious and when the opportunity comes, show up and differentiate yourself because of your interests. Look at what the role you applied for entails, what the organisation is about, think about what you can bring to the business before you go into that interview.”
Chokoe finishes off the discussion by saying that young people starting out on their education need to consider what this country needs, what they can do to leave this world better than they found it. She’s a strong advocate of volunteer work as a gateway to finding employment. “Find a CV app on your phone and download it and use it. There are opportunities out there to gain skills, you need to seek them out and make the most of opportunities that arise.”