Occupational Training must improve Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship
The National Youth Policy (NYP) for 2015–2020 (NYP 2020) is developed for young people in South Africa. It has a focus on redressing the wrongs of the past and addressing the specific challenges and immediate needs of the country’s youth.
A learner in Durban once asked me why no whites were on the learnerships he was aware of. Baiting me he followed with ‘Isn’t this training good enough?’
He made me question the separation of youth into ‘target markets’ for development based upon colour. Are we teaching our youth that they don’t have to assist and support each other? That they don’t share a common ability to contribute to collective collateral?
Whilst legislators try to address the uncontested ‘wrongs of the past’ they must ensure that they don’t entrench the past value systems that were used to validate apartheid –most notably that colour results in different needs and that there should be different goals for different shades of people.
These points don’t however detract from the importance and value of a national youth plan or deny that development is skewed as poverty is mostly black.
National Youth Policy Intent
NYP 2020 builds and improves upon South Africa’s first NYP, which covered the period 2009–2014.
NYP 2020 seeks to create an environment that enables the young people of South Africa to reach their potential.
It identifies the mechanisms and interventions that will act as catalysts to help clear critical blockages and achieve a positive environment.
Outlines interventions to enable the optimal development of young people, both as individuals and as members of South African society, enhancing their capabilities to transform the economy and the country.
To be an integrated development strategy, which will articulate in detail how the implementation of the interventions should be carried out,
For the goals of the policy to be realised, government will need to partner with all sections of society, including the private sector.
“Integrated, holistic and sustainable youth development, conscious of the historical imbalances and current imbalances and current realities, to build a non-sexist, non-racist, democratic South Africa in which young people and their organisations not only enjoy and contribute to their full potential in the social, economic and political spheres of life but also recognise and develop their responsibilities to build a better life for all.” National Youth Development Policy Framework Vison
NYP 2020 Goal
The goal is to consolidate youth initiatives that enhance the capabilities of young people to transform the economy and society. This will be achieved by:
- addressing their needs;
- promoting positive outcomes, opportunities, choices and relationships; and
- providing the support necessary to develop all young people, particularly those outside the social, political and economic mainstream.
This policy emphasises the need for various youth development efforts and interventions that holistically respond to all aspects or spheres of young people’s lives.
NYP 2020 Objectives
The objectives of the NYP 2020 are to:
Consolidate and integrate youth development into the mainstream of government policies, programmes and the national budget.
Strengthen the capacity of key youth development institutions and ensure integration and coordination in the delivery of youth services.
Build the capacity of young people to enable them to take charge of their own well-being by building their assets and realising their potential.
Strengthen a culture of patriotic citizenship among young people and to help them become responsible adults who care for their families and communities.
Foster a sense of national cohesion, while acknowledging the country’s diversity, and inculcate a spirit of patriotism by encouraging visible and active participation in different youth initiatives, projects and nation-building activities.
Why Targetted Training is Critical for this Market
The NYP paints a picture of opportunity for those organisations with a focus on capacitating youth and illustrates why this group is listed as a primary target market amongst SETAs.
High drop-out rates and inadequate skills development
Because there is a general belief that increasing the skills levels of young people will increase their chances of being gainfully employed, government has a vested interest in funding training interventions and in incentivising business to likewise invest.
Low skills levels among youth and a weak pipeline for human capital development
Although the rates of participation in schooling have improved, this gain is offset by the poor quality of education at all levels of the system. The skills pipeline is infested with obstacles that undermine unbiased access to opportunities in the labour market:
- Literacy and numeracy skills at primary school level are well below the international average. Poor-quality results in primary school lead to weak participation in other school levels.
- Low uptake and pass rates for mathematics and science at Grade 12 level inhibit growth in higher education, particularly in engineering, science and technology.
- About 47 percent of 22 to 25-year-olds in the country have completed Grade 12, compared to 70 percent in most developing countries. The pass rate decreased in three provinces (Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape).
- Large numbers of learners are dropping out of secondary schools without getting a National Senior Certificate or Grade 12, or an FET or adult basic education and training qualification.
- About 1 million young people exit the schooling system annually, of whom 65 percent leave without achieving a Grade 12 certificate.
- Half of those who exit the schooling system do so after Grade 11, either because they do not enrol in Grade 12 or they fail Grade 11.
- Participation rates in FET institutions have grown significantly, but they are still insufficient in number and quality to meet the intermediate skills needs of the economy.
- Only a small number of those who leave the schooling system enrol in technical vocational education and training (TVET) colleges or have access to any post-school training.
- In 2011, only 115 000 people enrolled in general vocational programmes at FET colleges.
Poor completion in higher education affects the supply of high-level, skilled graduates. Since access to scholarships and bursaries for Masters and Doctorate studies is weak and no practical strategy is in place to produce more black academics – it’s more difficult for the poor to study at these levels.
Access to post-school education and training is limited for school leavers, and those who do access these opportunities are often not sufficiently prepared for the workplace due to the poor quality of education and training provided. The situation is compounded by the fact that career development services are inadequate and that there is no national campaign promoting occupational training for those who cannot pursue more traditional study paths. Teachers don’t know about apprenticeships, learnerships and the skills development strategy.
The NYP states that the challenge facing post-school education is to find ways to assist the vast majority of school-leavers who do not qualify for direct entry into higher education or employment to gain skills. They need to start this by capacitating current teachers and university lecturers who groom future teachers.
Barriers to Employment
South Africa’s high rate of youth unemployment is largely attributed to the skills shortage in this age group.
- In 2011, only 31 percent of young people completed their matric (Grade 12) education.
- Even though most students were black, the student participation rate of this population group remained proportionally low in comparison with the Indian, Asian and white population groups.
- The percentage of individuals aged 20 years and older who have attained Grade 12 has been growing since 2002, increasing from 21.9 percent in 2002 to 27.7 percent in 2013.
- Over the same period, the percentage of individuals with some post-school education increased from 9.3 percent to 12.8 percent.
- The percentage of individuals without any schooling decreased from 10.6 percent in 2002 to 5.6 percent in 2013.
- This indicates that access to schooling is increasing, but not enough young people in the post-school phase are gaining training in the different skills needed to participate in the knowledge economy.
Large numbers of young people exited the education system prematurely and possess no professional or technical skills, making them effectively unemployable.
- About 60 percent of unemployed youth aged below 35 years have never worked. Without a targeted intervention, they will remain excluded from the economy.
- A multi-faceted approach is needed to strengthen basic education and reduce drop-out rates for current students.
- It has to create viable pathways for school-leavers to access post-school learning opportunities, while directly addressing the lack of skills and work experience among out-ofschool youth.
Skills development providers should use these factors to inform their business strategies in order to build leverage. Although the Department of Higher Education is pushing for increased funding allocations to FET colleges and a reduction in the perks previously offered to business – it should be noted that these colleges as not as agile as smaller training providers.
Training providers should consider evolving their business focus and competing where the colleges can’t. Most private providers have a more comprehensive business database at their disposal and existing business networks to tap into for on-the-job-experience.
FET colleges are notorious for struggling to establish these relationships and academics often have very little experience in the real world work scenario