Stats SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the second quarter of 2021 paints a bleak picture for job-seekers.
Not only has unemployment hit a record high of 34.4%, (7.8-million South Africans) – the highest on a global list of 82 countries monitored by Bloomberg Business – but in terms of the expanded definition of unemployment which includes discouraged job-seekers, 44% of those able to work are without employment.
Covid-19, political instability and economic uncertainty have conspired to leave South Africa in a perilous state, and for future generations, the outlook is even more troubling.
According to the QLFS for Q2, nearly two-thirds (64.4%) of those aged 15 to 24 are unemployed, while 42.9% of those aged 25 to 34 are without jobs.
Jobs-for-youth programmes regularly features in policy statements, but the latest statistics tell a very different story.
While the pandemic has affected every corner of society, young people, many of whom are university and college graduates, continue to draw the short end of the stick.
But as desperate as this situation may be, South African organisations and companies are also refusing to taking it lying down, recognising that the youth are the nation’s future.
Such organisations are investing heavily in targeted, professional programmes that will allow young people to skill themselves and drive the country’s return to prosperity, in turn giving hope to the next generation.
The Maharishi Invincibility Institute, a non-profit private college and self-development organisation that is currently funding certified and training programmes for hundreds of unemployed youth, has proved a shining light in this regard.
The institute provides bursary loans and self-development programmes for bright, deserving youth to further their studies and assists them in finding employment opportunities once they graduate.
By providing financial and other access to accredited qualifications through Services SETA [Sector Education and Training Authorities], which bridges the gap between the formal education and training system and the workplace, ICT SETA, five other SETA’s, as well as access to an accredited international business degree via distance learning, the Maharishi Institute is laying the perfect platform for outstanding future professionals.
“We are acutely aware of the hardships and challenges faced by our country’s youth,” says Dr Taddy Blecher, CEO of the Maharishi Invincibility Institute.
“Particularly with the arrival of the pandemic and concerning job numbers, it has become critical for young people not to be left behind.
“What we and our partners aim to achieve is not only give youth the opportunity to access the job market, but also gain experience in a workplace environment, as it is here where learnt skills will be put to use and ultimately have an effect on the economy.”
To this end, the “Learn and Earn” programme sets the institute apart. This programme provides real work experience for students while studying, and allows them to earn some extra money to pay for food and transport as they build their CVs.
The year 2020 will go down in history as one of the world’s most difficult as Covid-19 and lockdowns left no part of the planet untouched, yet even in these extremely challenging circumstances the institute recorded some remarkable achievements.
For one, the opening of the Maharishi Invincibility Institute in Cape Town was followed by the acquisition of a second building in the Johannesburg CBD.
For another, the institute won two global awards for its Cyber-Security Academy.
Arguably its greatest achievements, however, occurred in the learning space itself.
Covid-19 necessitated that its entire academic programme be moved online, but within weeks this daunting task had been completed.
The institute also developed and accredited five new national certificates with the relevant SETAs, while also
developing all modules for the new Higher Certificate in Business Management.
In a further example of the institute’s determination to always meet challenges head-on, it went above and beyond through its CIDA-E3 initiative, in developing and launching a HealthCheck App for the national school system in August 2020. This would later be used by all markers for the 2020 matric examinations.
The Maharishi Institute attributes a lot of its success to the backing of strategic partners, notably the Datatec Education and Technology Foundation, which itself carries a proud history of funding education, specifically in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in severely under-resourced communities.
Over the last two years, the Datatec foundation has contributed more than R2-million to the institute, a grant that has been crucial to the implementation of programmes and projects. These include:
- The provision of certified & accredited IT training programmes/ insurance training programmes/
financial markets training programmes/ cybersecurity training programmes/ digital marketing training programmes, work experience and a job placement service for 530 unemployed youth;
- Development of online platforms, and software integration with AI support;
- Installation of Wi-Fi across campus;
- Assistance with personal protective equipment items; and
- Developing five new courses for accreditation with SETA’s, and packaging a Higher Certificate in Business Management.
Datatec Education and Technology Foundation chair Maya Makanjee could not be happier with the Maharishi Institute’s performance.
“As the foundation we are committed to improving the lives of our country’s youth, and by extension, the South African economy. Investing in programmes such as those offered by the Maharishi Institute is an investment in our country’s future, because we have seen time and time again how their learners go on to make a huge impact when reaching the professional ranks,” she says.
Blecher is extremely grateful for the foundation’s “incredibly generous support”, and is confident the institute will achieve all the objectives of the grant.