by: Zandile Keebine
In the midst of all the inequalities, the lack of credibility in our government, the high unemployment rate, and the threat of our economy being reduced to junk status. There has never been a more opportune time to rise up as the youth and take ownership of not only our future but that of generations to come.
I believe we are at the nexus of a great change and what we do from now on will either bring about an extraordinary turnaround in our economy in the next 5 years or it will solidify our ‘junk status’ not only as South Africa but as a continent.
Recently we seeing what might be the light at the end of the tunnel, ‘the rise of social entrepreneurship’. While business entrepreneurs are driven by the desire to optimize profits, social entrepreneurs measure their value by the extent to which their efforts have a significant impact on society by challenging established paradigm. Social entrepreneurs can bring about economic freedom, especially for women and innovation that will ultimately create the kind of long term sustainability we need to elevate our status as a continent. In order for this to be achieved, two things have to happen simultaneously:
S.A’s skills deficit especially when it comes to STEM means that employers are increasingly finding it difficult to find suitable candidates to fill job positions and as a result have to outsource jobs to people outside the country. With 31% of employers reporting difficulty in filling posts, South Africa is moving closer to the global average of 38%, as determined by ManpowerGroup’s research. This shortage of skills is most prevalent among women, who for decades have been marginalized and forced to stay at home and take care of the household as opposed to going to school and getting an education.
#SkillsMustRise means that we need to deconstruct our education system and build it from the ground up. We need to create a culture of innovative thinking, discipline and excellence (not in marks) but in the quality of output from our learners. We put too much emphasis on the ‘correct’ answer instead of the ‘alternative’ answer and for as long as that holds true, we will forever be a nation of consumers instead of producers.
For me, it seems like these two things are merely two sides of the same coin and the only way to elevate both is to keep the coin spinning i.e we must place as much emphasis on entrepreneurship as much as relevant skills. However high vacancy rates in the presence of large scale unemployment confirm the existence of skills mismatches, which seems to be the more pressing issue.Organizations such as GirlHype, Reaketsetsa in S.A and Tech Needs Girls in Ghana that are working to up skill young girls and women in tech could be just the solution we need.
Women occupy some of the toughest socio-technological and economical issues of our time. In the intersection of these challenges lies women who continue to bare the grunt of inequalities and unemployment. This is why women are uniquely positioned to contribute to and drive the kind of innovation that cannot be dreamed up at Silicon Valley but can only be achieved through lived experiences.