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Creating Job Creators: How to empower a generation to Employ and Innovate

by Tia

As South Africa faces one of the highest youth unemployment rates globally, with 61% of those aged 15-24 and 40% of those aged 25-34 being particularly vulnerable, the need for tech-savvy matriculants who can run their own businesses has never been more critical. Speaking during Youth Month, Shaun Fuchs, CEO and founder of Centennial Schools, said that the education system must play a proactive role in developing work-ready young tech leaders and entrepreneurs.

“Given our economic outlook and ever-increasing rate of unemployment, young South Africans can’t rely purely on the formal sector for employment. It’s become imperative that we equip our youth with the skills and acumen they need to start and run businesses that thrive. We must create a generation that is not only employable but also capable of creating employment,” says Fuchs.

A recent report highlights the severe shortage of tech skills in the market, with four in five South African organisations reporting negative effects due to this insufficiency. The most in-demand skills include cybersecurity and data analytics (63%), coding (49%), and digital transformation (48%). When recruiting, more than two-thirds of companies cite technical skills as an important attribute, and 70% look for digital transformation capabilities. Democratising these tech skills for the youth is crucial, as it not only addresses this critical gap but also empowers a new generation to drive innovation, economic growth, and social progress in an increasingly digital world.

He adds, “Our curriculum includes core tech competencies such as coding, content creation, cryptocurrency, and blockchain. These are not extracurricular activities. Additionally, we teach essential entrepreneurial skills like marketing, financial management, innovation, and networking. By partnering students with entrepreneurs, we provide real-world experience. We believe this integration of skills results in more technically proficient students.”

Fuchs, himself a serial entrepreneur, believes that these are future-forward skills that young people need in order to integrate successfully into the business landscape and attain economic independence.

“We have an increasingly skills-intensive labour market that is failing to create jobs for millions of unskilled youth, and this is compounded by a deteriorating education system that continues to churn out a workforce that is largely unskilled. The result is a gross mismatch between labour supply and demand. We need to strive towards creating a new generation of leaders who are ready to tackle the challenges of the future job market,” concludes Fuchs.

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