Youth Unemployment: A Few Gorillas in the Room

Gorilla in a room

Wednesday, 30 October 2019: 10h51.

Introduction

As the whole South African nation hold their breaths in anticipation of the Finance Minister’s mid-term budget speech, it is appropriate to acknowledge a few big gorillas in a very small room called Youth Unemployment.

It will come as no surprise that the Minister will lament the sorry state of unemployment in the country.

  • Rising unemployment of young graduates[1] could be high on the agenda, too.
  • Billions have been spent on curbing youth unemployment[2], and we can expect that more money will be thrown at the issue
  • Trade unions will insist that automation should be replaced with manual labour[3] but, at the same time, trade unions could be unhappy with the fact that new entrants in the job market threaten the protective layers wrapped about union members in the workplace
  • Fingers could be pointed at defective skills development models, and others are likely to argue that universities must do away with fees so that free education is available to all
  • Industry is likely to point out that freshly ground graduates are not equipped to make a difference in the workplace unless they are re-skilled, costing more time and money
  • The youth will bleat that “there are no opportunities” and that no one is willing to give them a chance
  • Last, employers will argue the current labour dispensations make it difficult to get rid of underperformers, thus they are not willing to hire unless labour frameworks allow them to get rid of dead wood with relative ease.

Growth Institute are not labour specialists, nor are we economists.  We are educators and we will discuss youth unemployment from the perspective of education and skills development.

Lack of opportunities

Not a single day goes by in South Africa that the youth in all demographics complain that there are no opportunities.  Some say they are too white for an opportunity; some say they are not black enough and others say that they are still being discriminated against for many different reasons.

The fact is that the private sector, in compliance with the Skills Development Act, the Labour Relations Act, the Income Tax Act (in terms of learnership credits) and B-BBEE legislation actually creates many opportunities for all the youth to be uplifted.

It is also a fact that many of the youth are unwilling to benefit from Skills Development initiatives because the qualifications associated with these initiatives are not degrees.

Next, some who are offered opportunities where they could get a free education worth thousands of Rands, say that they cannot afford to come to class.  Yet, the same persons who state that they cannot afford to come to class may live in a Hyde Park estate or in another suburban and they may have family members working as company executives in Sandton.

We must contrast this attitude with a person who lives in a squatter camp and who makes a plan to find a support system so that he/she can attend a Skills Development Program.

In June 2018, at a Youth Day event, Growth Institute conducted an informal market survey under 18-year olds living in suburbs and in townships and we discovered that 38% of those who claim that they cannot afford tertiary studies actually received pocket money ranging from R 500 to R 3 000 per week.  Can the affordability excuse still hold water if a person receives pocket money with an annual value of between R 26 000 and R 156 000, and where the average annual cost of some very good programs is about R 24 000 (including class fees and study material)?

Is it not time to question why those who are clearly financially able to improve themselves, refuse to do so whilst others move heaven and earth to grasp an opportunity, resolving to succeed at all costs?

Attitude is clearly an issue.

Parents who own successful small to medium enterprises are often blissfully aware that current legislative frameworks allow them to place their children on Skills Develop programs without relying on SETA funding.  This unawareness should be addressed and parents should be educated on how to make use of structures created by the State so that we can eradicate the country’s skills shortages.

Industry relevance of qualifications

Industry often expresses the view that some qualifications are not relevant to the workplace.  It is also pointed out that some qualifications lack certain fundamental skills.

For example, industry find it very difficult to understand how a person with an HR qualification cannot handle payroll matters.  Nor can industry understand how a graduate in Labour Relations do not understand skills development or B-BBEE. Third, industry wonders how a degree in Intrapreneurship or Entrepreneurship is actually relevant to the workplace.

Tertiary institutions will argue that it is a Herculean task to design qualifications that could meet all possible permutations needed by industry.  Considering that it could take five years or more for a tertiary institution to develop a new qualification, it is understandable that qualifications are slow to adapt to changing market needs.

The other side of the coin is that tertiary institutions need revenue and that some programs (such as an Accounting Degree) in itself do generate sufficient income to sustain the tertiary institution.  Therefore, a range of alternative qualifications exist so that revenue targets can be met.

The bigger criticism, however, is that tertiary institutions teach students theoretical models that are not relevant to the workplace.  Nor, they say, do tertiary institutions spend enough time to make students workplace ready.

Tertiary institutions will point out that they have a so-called Triple Helix responsibility towards society.  Their responsibilities are:

  • Primarily to teach,
  • Secondarily to do research, and
  • Thirdly, to find alternative income streams known as the “Entrepreneurial University[4]”. In South Africa’s context, third income streams typically refer to the development of extra-curricular courses offered to industry as part of work-integrated learning programs, thus creating additional income streams.  There is also another dimension to the third income stream, namely to solicit donations from benefactors in the private sector.  In addition, many large universities such as MIT, Stanford, Caltech, and others engage with the private sector on a range of research and development projects, where specialist academics do no teach but render R&D services to industry.

South African academics do not have the same liberties as in other countries where specialised teams are responsible for the third income stream activities.  Most academics are expected to handle all three streams at the same time.  They are so busy with teaching, research and short courses that they do not have time to really develop collaborative research models or custom-built programs that industry wants.

If industry want programs that meet their specialised needs, then industry must find a coopetive way to fund universities for the development of qualifications or programs relevant to industry as a collective.  There are cases where South African universities develop specialist training programs for certain sectors (such as the big banks).  Our economy, however, is much greater than a few banks who can afford investing in specialised courses.

For industry to get staff with industry-specified qualifications, will mean that industry will have to invest significant amounts of money into universities so that they can get what they want.

Degrees versus vocational programs

South Africans have an unhealthy infatuation for degrees. For years, they have been indoctrinated that a degree is only valid ticket to the job market.  Certificates and diplomas, especially those associated with trades or vocations, are considered as inferior.  Critics forget that some of these “inferior” qualifications have a higher required pass mark than the more “prestigious” degrees (60% in an external exam versus 50% in an internal exam).  Moreover, critics think that trades or vocations are associated with menial, dirty jobs that no one wants.  They forget that the majority of jobs listed on the State’s critical scarce skills lists are the exact same trades and vocations that everyone seems to despise.

Rand for Rand, a well-qualified tradesperson has the same earning potential as a well-qualified doctor, lawyer, accountant, actuary, or white-collar executive.

An unwillingness to do a day’s worth on honest work where one risks becoming dirty, is a braking factor in driving down unemployment rates in this country.

Also, many of the youth have completed the theoretical components of N-Programs (N3 through N6) but cannot find employment because they never completed the practical component of that program.  This means that a National Qualification cannot be awarded until the practical component is finished.  Unfortunately, the practical components, in most cases, must be completed as part of an apprenticeship.  Not many are willing to do apprenticeships and not many employers are willing to take in apprentices.  There is a perception that apprenticeships are a form of cheap labour associated with the old Apartheid years.  There is also the reality that some colleges who offer the N-programs are silent about the required practical components associated with these NATED programs.

South Africa would have to re-insist that apprenticeships and practical learning components receive then attention that it should.

Another perception that must be dispelled, is the idea that one cannot become, for example, an accountant unless one has a degree, and unless one belongs to certain professional bodies at the expense of other professional bodies.  There is a great need for people doing bookkeeping, payroll and associated functions with only a diploma or certificate in hand.  The idea that one has to employ a degreed person to do a job that someone with a certificate or a diploma can do, must be questioned.  This is especially true of certificates and diplomas recognised by professional bodies other than a few that create barriers of entry instead of broadening a profession as a whole.

Workeracy and entrepreneurship versus jobs

The youth must get used to the idea that a qualification should enable them to create work and instead of looking for a job.  Some of today’s youth do not want to be saddled in one role only.  They want to be multipreneurs and they feel that there is not tolerance in the labour market for multipreneurs.

The youth also believe that entrepreneurship or workeracy is not possible unless one is already a billionaire or unless one has instant access to high levels of start-up capital.

They do not realise that the essence of entrepreneurship and workeracy is not founded in high levels of capital but in the ability to create a product or service needed by others.  More so, a service-oriented workeracy dispensation may not need high levels of start-up capital but the ability to persuade potential customers that they need a specific service that is either not found anywhere else or that can be obtained and a lower cost and at a higher quality than what the customer has been exposed to before.

Workeracy and entrepreneurship does not mean instant success.  It often translates into hours, months or years of hard work before the billions start to roll in.

The question is: to what extent is the youth willing to invest in effort and time so that rewards can be reaped?

Parting thoughts

South Africa’s youth unemployment debacle needs a new mindset.  The lingering question is: who will be willing to face the challenges and venture the time and energy to overcome the barriers presented to us?

[1] http://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=12121

[2] https://www.iol.co.za/saturday-star/shocking-youth-unemployment-figures-revealed-19644159

[3] http://www.702.co.za/articles/365322/unemployment-rises-to-29-1-cosatu-not-surprised-because-little-is-being-done

 

[4] https://www.academia.edu/40713891/The_Entrepreneurial_University_Bridging_the_Chasm

 

https://www.academia.edu/3595933/Productive_University_Partnerships_A_South_African_Perspective

 

 

 

There is LIFE after Grade 12

Matric Sadness

Grade 12’s are entering the final exam phase of their school careers.  This time of year is marked with high levels of stress, suicide and general feelings of hopelessness in case a learner fails his/her Matric exams.

Several case studies at the Growth Institute show that failing a Matric exam is not the end of the road.  We believe that far too much emphasis is placed on Matric.  In fact, Matric learners are so stressed about the exams that their marks could drop by as much as 30% compared to what they have achieved in Grade 11.

It is not unlikely that a person who, got an average of 60% in his/her Grade 11 subjects, suddenly ends up with an average of as low as 30%.

The State’s default answer to those who failed Matric is that they have to enrol at a TVET college.  What is not said, is that those who failed Matric and who decide to go to a TVET college, have to start a program that is two levels lower than the Grade 12 level.  Thus, a person has to redo Grade 10 before he/she could progress to the next TVET level.

In a previous article, we indicated that the success rate at TVET colleges is not even 10%.  Thus, TVET colleges may not be a suitable answer.

Even when a person passed Grade 12 with very good marks, there are cases where the subject combinations that they took in school are not relevant to the minimum admission requirements at the majority of tertiary institutions outside the TVET framework.

The fact is that not all tertiary programs require that a candidate must have a Grade 12.  Coupled to this fact, is the misinformed myth that all programs who admit persons with Grade 11, are inferior.

Critics forget that many programs offered at private colleges are assessed by independent external examining bodies.  This means that the person who starts a first-year program at some private colleges, is exposed a series of professional exams that are focused on very specific skill sets that are relevant to the workplace.

It is a great social injustice to deny somebody access to a tertiary qualification simply because he/she did not pass Grade 12 but got very good marks in Grade 11.  There is indeed a solution for candidates in this group.  They could get access to a program that is on the same level as Grade 12 (NQF 3) and that allows them to progress towards a National Diploma (NQF 6) recognised by a host of professional bodies.

The fact that such programs are focused on workplace-based skills means that a person who completed such a program could be in a position where:

  • The skills learnt is relevant to the workplace and needed by the workplace
  • The skills learnt provide access to professional bodies that allow a person to practice as:
    • Bookkeepers
    • Financial accountants
    • Office managers
    • And other related professions of functions

Our advice to anyone who did not pass Grade 12, is to consider that there are options other than being forced into a TVET stream or being forced to face a life of unemployability because there is no perceived access to a tertiary academic program.

What can I do with my incomplete qualification?

Unhappiness-Depression1-1024x683

Every year, thousands of South African youth drop out of university or college with an incomplete qualification.

Research done by the Growth Institute has shown that more than 40% of youth who drop out, actually completed a college or university program but that their results are withheld for a variety of reasons.  In many cases, the students have an outstanding study account, which causes the withholding of results.

Another 40% of youth think that they did not achieve a qualification after they dropped out and they simply do not know how to find out whether the are entitled to a qualification or not.

Growth Institute found that, in the latter class, students have studied towards a professional exam and that some colleges withhold the fact that the student have passed the professional exam and are, therefore, entitled to a qualification.

In addition, some colleges mix and match professional qualifications with internal programs and refuse to award a qualification even though the student has met all the requirements of the professional examination body.  In this case, qualifications are withheld because a student may not have completed a small fraction of the internal program.

Students who studied a NATED (N3, N4, N5 and N6) are often not awarded because the students have not completed specific practical course requirements.

No matter what the case, the fact remains that students who wrote certain professional exams are not aware that they actually met all the requirements of the professional examining body.  Such persons, need help to right a glaring social injustice.

The South African youth are not aware that they could make use of a Recognition or Prior Learning (RPL) intervention so that they could be considered for an alternative qualification.

An RPL intervention is not a magic bullet that will transform an incomplete qualification in an alternative full qualification.

Growth Institute’s research has shown that 55% of youth who did wrote some professional exam, needs only three more credits to be awarded a qualification at a specific level.

We are committed to help the South African youth to get what they deserve.

A Great Opportunity Awaits You!

Opportunity_cost_is_a_huge_filter_in_life

Growth Institute is offering an opportunity to young, dynamic, individuals to prepare for a career in a number of international hotels.

All persons between the age of 18 and 25 who register for any of our Hotel Management Programs, could be earmarked to work overseas.

If you meet the following entry requirements, you could be in the run for an opportunity of a lifetime:

  • You must be between 18 and 25 years old
  • You must have Grade 12 with:
    • English 60%
    • Math Lit 60%
  • You must be a South African citizen
  • You must have a valid driver’s licence
  • You must have completed at least Level 3 and Level 4 Hotel Management at our college
  • You must pass all selection interviews

Act today and stand a chance to join the fastest growing industry in the world.  The new classes start on 1 September 2019.

Apply via our website www.growthinstitute.co.za

 

Good News for anyone without Grade 12

hope

Yearly, thousands of learners are forced to leave school after they completed Grade 11.  In almost every case, personal circumstances necessitate leaving school before there was an opportunity to finish Grade 12.

Most early school leavers believe that they will never be able to get a tertiary qualification because they lack a Matric Certificate.

The good news is that a Matric Certificate is NOT a prerequisite to a tertiary qualification.  This means that Growth Institute is willing to accept students who completed Grade 11 and who have achieved the following marks:

  • English 60%
  • Mathematics Literacy 60% or Mathematics Core 55%

Accounting or Bookkeeping is not a prerequisite for any of our courses.

We feel that any institution who refuses to accept persons who achieved good marks in Grade 11 and who could not achieve Grade 12, is not taking the interest of the youth at heart.

Circumstance should not stand in the way of achievement.

That is why Growth Institute’s Dignity Program has been designed to give every person, who passed Grade 11 with good marks, an opportunity to obtain a tertiary qualification.

Setting new standards in tertiary education

Profgessionals4.jpg

The days of rote learning or learning in a strict, regimental, environment are over at Growth Institute.

We demand that our students stand on their own feet and that they are able to hold their own in a workplace that becomes more relentless by the day.

We have flipped the classroom.  Students are expected to do specific volumes of pre-reading and research before they come to a class.  Lecturers discuss topics in class, asking exploratory questions and spending time to assess which student needs more attention.

Growth Institute believes in the adage that one can lead a horse to water but that it remains the horse’s responsibility to drink.  Since all of our course require practical application, Growth Institute assist students to find placements in a workplace.  These placements are considered to be unpaid internships and the onus is on students to meet specific workplace-based outcomes that are part of the course.

Students who are reluctant to sing up for workplace experience quickly find that they lag behind because the majority of assessments and exams that they have to complete, requires students to quote examples out of their practical workplace experience.

Our experiential approach to learning means that those students who eventually pass their senior levels, are well prepared for the workplace.  They have been exposed to a number of demanding situations and they quickly learn how to build a strong coping support system around them.

We can rightly say that the majority of our students are gutsy, resilient and well-adapted to deal with the workplace.

Literacy: More than just the “Three R’s”

study8

World Literacy Day will be celebrated on 8 September 2019, and it is appropriate to ask, “What is literacy really?”.  Reading, writing and arithmetic is, in our view, only the tip of the Literacy Iceberg.

Growth Institute believes that literacy can only become meaningful when comprehension, insight and wisdom is associated with literacy.  Most South Africans can read, write a sentence or do a basic calculation, but not all have the ability to engage with and extract sustainable meaningful insights from a text or narrative.

Decades of rote learning practices, and neglectful teacher development have come home to roost.

The effect of poor literacy stands out when learners are confronted with exams.  Let’s consider the following experiential examples:

  • The fact that learners attempt to memorise calculations and then complain that the “sums they have studied were not in the exam” is alarming. Learners simply do not know the principles of arithmetic and that is why they are stumped when the same type of calculation, made up of different numbers, is presented to them in an exam.
  • Some “education experts” believe that grammar and spelling is not essential to a language course. Thus, assessors are confronted with exam answers in which words are strung together without any meaning.
  • Poor literacy also means that learners are not able to follow written instructions in exams because some examiners have literacy issues themselves. For example, what does “Write about the effects of economic cycles” mean to a learner?  In addition, an exam question such as “List transactions without money” gives no indication of what the examiner wants to assess.

Some teachers do not know how to teach and some who set exam questions have never been exposed to the role that semantics, grammar and Bloom’s Taxonomy plays in the creation of meaningful assessments.  Poor setting of exam papers or exam questions contribute to high failure rates which, in turn, are interpreted by some as low literacy levels under learners.

To improve literacy rates will demand that the State improves the quality of those who stand in front of a class.  It is time to reconsider the minimum qualifications and requirements to be a teacher.

  • In the Canadian system[1], a three-year post-secondary degree and four semesters of teacher training is required.
  • In India, teachers must have a minimum of a Bachelors Degree and they must meet specific eligibility requirements[2] before they are allowed in a classroom
  • In Kenya, teachers have to complete a one-year post diploma teacher training course before they are allowed to practice[3]. Similar requirements are found in Nigeria[4].
  • Ghana requires that teachers practice under supervision before they are admitted to the profession[5]

Teachers need multiple levels of skills.  Not only do they need to master the content of a specific subject (such as Geography, Mathematics, Accounting, etc.), they must master the ability to transfer that knowledge is such a way that everybody can understand the concepts being taught.

  • Teacher competency – especially the ability to transfer knowledge in English, remains a problem[6]. Mother-tongue education at lower levels remains a complicated matter.
  • Continuous training of teachers[7] becomes a greater imperative than ever.
  • Some teachers in South Africa are eager to have their competencies assessed on a regular basis[8]. Unfortunately, labour unions seem to take a dim view, insisting that teachers’ competencies should not be challenged[9].  More specifically, the idea that teaching is not an essential service[10] must be re-examined.

In the future world of work, economic freedom will only be achieved by those who can extract meaning and insight from the world around them.  The ability to “Ask Why?” and not the ability of mechanistic reading, writing or arithmetic will be the divide between those who will thrive in the new world of work, and those who will fade into a state of competitive irrelevance.

Our education system has to make very hard choices.  Will learners who are exposed to new regimes such a robotics and software coding be able to develop solutions based on insight, or will learners simply go through motions without understanding the value of what they are taught?

The fact is that disciplines such as robotics, software coding, mathematics, physics, science all require high levels of reasoning and language skills from learners.  These subjects depend on the ability to master causalities (“If”, “Then”, “Else”).

There is no more place for rote learning and there is no more place for actions that places the whole education system at risk.

 

[1] https://www.oct.ca/becoming-a-teacher/requirements

[2] https://www.jagranjosh.com/articles/courses-and-their-eligibility-criteria-to-become-government-teacher-in-india-1509423073-1

[3] https://www.tuko.co.ke/305894-new-requirements-a-teacher-kenya.html#305894

[4] https://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1108/Nigeria-TEACHING-PROFESSION.html

[5] https://www.businessghana.com/site/news/general/168641/Govt-raises-entry-requirements-for-basic-school-teachers

[6] https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-03-27-when-teachers-fail-below-par-knowledge-of-subject-and-struggling-with-language-of-tuition/

[7] https://resep.sun.ac.za/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Paula-Armstrong-Thesis.pdf

[8] https://scholar.ufs.ac.za/xmlui/handle/11660/5240?show=full

[9] http://www.702.co.za/articles/4679/interference-of-teacher-trade-unions-affecting-quality-education-in-sa

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2019-03-13-curb-the-destructive-power-of-unions/

https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/opinion/columnists/2019-06-26-big-business-is-letting-cyril-ramaphosa-down/

[10] https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/education/2018-12-05-teaching-is-not-an-essential-service-so-teachers-may-strike/