Facebook moves to combat youth unemployment in SA

Read time 3min 10sec

Facebook has committed to contributing towards reducing youth unemployment in SA, as it eyes nationwide expansion of its ICT skills and entrepreneurship programmes.

The world's largest social network says it has successfully trained almost 5 000 young South Africans in the past year, and it is stepping up efforts to train more youth in ICT and entrepreneurship skills.

Through a partnership with Digify Africa, Facebook runs Digify Pro, a ten-week digital skills boot camp aimed at preparing youth for a career in digital marketing. Other programmes include the She Means Business, a programme focused on inspiring female entrepreneurs and Boost Your Business, a free course on online marketing and data analytics.

Emilar Gandhi, public policy lead for Facebook, SADC region, told ITWeb that Facebook is looking to partner with more organisations, with the hope of expanding its programmes, which are mainly focused on Gauteng, to other parts of the country.

“Facebook is doing quite a lot in SA from a skills development point of view. Youth unemployment is a serious issue in SA, with almost two-thirds of unemployed South Africans falling into the youngest age bracket. As Facebook, we have an important role to play in eradicating youth unemployment,” explained Gandhi.

“Our various skills development programmes provide skills for both those who want to pursue entrepreneurship and a career in any field. Our business-focused programmes entail curated courses which teach young entrepreneurs how to tap into the global market on our platforms, ensuring that their customers are not only confined to their community."

Youth-owned small businesses

According to Facebook, since 2018 around 2 787 youth-owned small businesses have been successfully trained through the Boost your Business Programme, with 39 young participants completing the Digify Pro course. Another 1 504 were trained as part of the Ilizwe Lam youth safety programme, aimed at ensuring that youngsters are kept safe when using the Internet.

Last month, more than 300 young entrepreneurs and marketers gathered at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown for Facebook’s Youth Enterprise and Skills Day, held in partnership with the Department of Small Business Development.

The event was aimed at inspiring young South Africans to build and grow successful businesses through leveraging digital marketing, and to encourage youth to venture into science, technology, engineering, and math careers.

“A report recently released by Statistics SA found that young people don't have adequate work-ready skills to prepare them for the workplace of the future. We are working with the department of Department of Small Business Development and the Small Enterprise Development Agency to try and scale these programmes to other parts of the country. We are not trying to re-invent the wheel but we want to leverage from each other’s strengths to impart crucial skills to participants,” added Gandhi.

Two examples of businesses that have made strides since their founders participated in Facebook’s skills development programmes include Ntozinhle Accessorise, a local accessory brand specialising in handmade jewellery and Cape-Town based online educational platform, Get Smarter.

Ntozinhle Accessorise have seen an 18% increase in sales through the use of our Facebook and Instagram platforms, while Get Smarter has grown from 10 to 600 employees, and they now provide courses to the global population,” explained Gandhi.

With the two groups of people that are mostly affected by unemployment in SA being youth and women, Facebook is already working on plans to roll out more female-focused initiatives in August, concluded Gandhi.

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