“People who are not on a journey never fall; then again, neither do they move forward.”  Pope Francis, 2020.

2020 is turning out very differently to what everyone expected! Walking about in public, seeing closed doors, empty shops and restaurants and almost everyone wearing masks have a post-apocalyptic feel to it. Parents are juggling zoom calls with hide and seek games with toddlers, and teens are interfacing with peers and educators in a whole new way. Although we’re no longer confined by the severe lockdown we had in April and May, things are far from normal. Who would have thought that it would become commonplace to spray your hands with sanitizer at every opportunity?

For young people who were already facing the risk of unemployment, the dip in the economy and reduced prospects makes their futures look very frightening. What should the 18 to 35-year-olds be contemplating in the face of these very real risks and challenges? Since there are far more workers than available jobs, learners need to look at gaining sought-after skills that will get them hired or help them find profit-making opportunities for themselves. Resilience is king!  At the forefront, of course, we need more Information Communication Technology (ICT) training to give young people a springboard into the world of work and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4iR). The power of ICT for our generation is as lifechanging as access to running water and electricity was for our forebears. This has become even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic as many employment opportunities have shifted online. Working remotely demands a whole new set of skills but for many people it’s becoming the new normal and it’s an attractive option for employers who benefit from paying less rent.

ICT skills are many and varied – producing word processing documents, working with databases, power points, search engines, video calls, internet browsing and spreadsheets as well as gaining work experience to go along with them. Business and entrepreneurship skills are critical for young people to promote themselves and their fresh ideas. Other opportunity-rich areas are robotics, 3D printing, medical technology, online education, social sciences and agriculture. The fields that have taken a back seat, for now, are hospitality, travel, beauty and wellness, sport, entertainment and markets.

South African school goers, unfortunately, have not been well prepared with ICT skills although efforts to change this are ongoing. Again, COVID-19 has jettisoned education onto an online platform and accelerated technological advances. Pick n Pay School Club is proud to be a pioneer in this initiative offering a vast collection of online lesson plans and worksheets to fill those tricky hours when the kids are not at school and you are trying meet deadlines. For school-leavers, here are three options to explore:

During the lockdown, Cisco has been offering free upskilling courses on exciting subjects such as Intro to Internet of Things, Linux and Python coding and entrepreneurship. Take a look at https://www.htxt.co.za/2020/06/09/cisco-offering-free-ict-skills-training-to-students-and-citizens-across-africa/

Technical – Vocational Education and Training is available at registered TVET colleges in 350 campuses across the country. It is encouraging to see how many online courses are on offer. Check them out at www.careersportal.co.za

Studentroom.co.za has a wealth of information on courses, bursaries, internships, learnerships and apprenticeships available. See here: https://www.studentroom.co.za/

University short courses that help you build the skills you need to get hired are available at several Universities of Technology across the country. See the full list here: https://www.studentroom.co.za/universities-universities-of-technology-in-south-africa/


Thanks to Lewis Keegan – Skillscouter.com for sharing their work on Unsplash.

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