South Africa has the second worst youth unemployment rate in the world. Two out of every three young people under the age of 35 are not employed or studying, and earlier this month another 400 000 young people graduated in the matric class of 2022 with little prospect of employment and job opportunities.
“With limited tertiary education opportunities available for young people, and those studying further, students are not adequately equipped with skills to set themselves up because our education system has not sufficiently prepared them to be work ready when they leave school.” says serial entrepreneur, author and founder of Centennial Schools, Shaun Fuchs. “Our school curriculums have not adapted to teaching these real-world skills that will set high school graduates up for success. “ 85% of jobs that will be available in 2030, do not exist right now. Students completing a four-year engineering program in 2019 could not have the skills that industry is searching for when they graduate in 2023, making it more difficult to prepare for a career that doesn’t yet exist. How many university graduates from 2014, for instance, decided on a career path that would prepare them to work as Blockchain engineers today? Since late 2017, the demand for blockchain engineers has surged by 400%.
Fuchs says it is crucial to include entrepreneur training into school curriculums so that these young people leave school with work-ready skills. “It has been proven over and over again that entrepreneurs are essential cogs in the wheels of any country’s economy.”
Fuchs says South Africa’s youth have already shown a natural inclination for entrepreneurship. “More than half of all South African entrepreneurs are young people, and the more we equip them with the correct tools and knowledge while they are in school, the better they will become at starting businesses, ensuring these start-up businesses sustainability and ultimately unlocking the full economic potential of this country,” he says.
The benefits of incorporating entrepreneurial studies into the school curriculum:
- Equips students with effective business skills such as public speaking and how to prepare an effective presentation
- Teaches them how to collect and analyse data
- Shows them how to use curiosity and creativity to find an innovative approach to difficult problems and how to monetise these
- Teaches students vital life skills such as team work, leveraging the internet and social media for marketing and business growth, as well as developing creative ways to create or source new products and solve complex problems
“Entrepreneurship education aids students from any socioeconomic background to think creatively and nurture unconventional talents and skills. It creates opportunities, ensures social justice, instils confidence, and stimulates the economy,” he says.
While Centennial Schools follow the national CAPS curriculum, the school has built entrepreneurship into its teaching methodology. “Many schools have adopted technology like coding and gaming into their curriculum, we’ve taken it one step further.
“As part of our advanced curriculum students are taught subjects such as Adobe Suite for creative and digital innovation and Studio One for music production and film scoring all with the aim of becoming independent content creators. The global market for digital content creation reached a value of about USD 12.2 billion in 2021, that alone shows you the earning potential of careers like this.”
“Over and above that we also host a business incubator programme where students have to create business plans, implement them and understand the financial aspects of that business too.
The reality, Fuchs says, is that only around 2.5 million of this country’s 10 million young people aged 15 to 24 are active in the labour force. Those that are not active say their primary reason is that they have lost hope of finding a job that suits their skills or the area they reside in.
To truly transform South Africa’s economy, we need more young entrepreneurs. This means we must teach the fundamentals and encourage entrepreneurship as a career opportunity, rather than the tired, traditional career paths,” Fuchs says.