Opportunities are in digital space, SA youths advised
In commemoration of Youth Month, two senior executives urge young people to use technology effectively in search of new work opportunities as well as entrepreneurial success.
As the impact of the deadly COVID-19 continues, the executives say the innovative potential of young people, combined with the power of technology, will prove to be an irresistible force in achieving success.
In SA, the outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in a jobs bloodbath, with hundreds of thousands of people swelling the ranks of the unemployed, as economic activity came to a halt because of the nation-wide lockdown.
Suraya Hamdulay, executive partner at Tsa Rona Insight & Analytics, says thinking differently about the circumstances can drive solutions and solve problems, giving rise to social innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Youth need to be self-motivated and proactive in seeking out opportunities that will propel their future success.”
According to Hamdulay, there are enough resources, opportunities and lessons for the youth.
“All they need do is make use of what is available. They do not have the luxury of being helpless but should leverage every social media platform which they have access to in order to educate and empower themselves.
“Youth should actively move from being consumers of content and data, to leveraging content and data to educate themselves, skill themselves, become entrepreneurs, social innovators and value creators.”
Open source drive
Hamdulay says tech giants like Google, Facebook and IBM have large open source free education platforms.
“Youth should seek these out and upskill themselves. If the fourth industrial revolution is already here, youth should learn to code, explore robotics, artificial intelligence and other future skills. We no longer have an excuse that we do not have access to technology.”
She notes that in the past few months, more information and platforms have opened to global free usage than ever before.
“The youth of today have taught themselves to create content, create memes, make TikTok videos, mix music and engage on these global platforms in funny and creative ways. Africa has no lack of talent. It is up to the youth to acknowledge their own talent, believe in it and harness it to create new and relevant income opportunities.”
Lungile Langa, director, human resources at Servest, says the increasing adoption of technology solutions by industries to offset the impact of COVID-19 and stagnant economic activity presents unprecedented opportunity.
Langa highlights that while the world is facing difficult times, young people in SA can turn the crisis into new opportunities for themselves.
“In fact, now more than ever, people need to find problems to solve in any industry and present a strong case for the proposed solution. To survive in this rapidly-changing landscape, the strategy should be innovation and digital transformation. And this will require young minds and high-tech workplaces that favour the youth.
“The advent of the digital age favours the youth. This increasing usage of technology solutions puts the youth in a favourable position to seize the opportunities in the new world order where smart solutions are increasingly driving production. This is the time for young people to ‘show up’, instead of spending time on social media.”
She notes the increasing digitisation of the world calls upon young people to use their digital competence to develop smart solutions that can benefit organisations, and search for entrepreneurial and work opportunities.
Langa points out there are employment opportunities for young people during and post the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Every industry will have new opportunities that require new skills. The nature of work will change. The profile of the ideal employee is someone who is tech-savvy. Skills will have to be transformed to meet the digital imperative; if not, they will be replaced.”
More companies incorporated in SA are pushing a strong digital agenda and are increasingly imparting skills to young people.
Huawei is one such organisation that has established numerous ICT training initiatives aimed at uplifting youth, creating meaningful employment, and advancing the development of SA’s ICT sector.
Tebatso Munyai, one of the youths to have benefitted from Huawei’s programme, says these initiatives are set out to boost the fourth industrial revolution locally.
“We travelled to major cities such as Hong Kong, Beijing and Shenzhen, where we learned about Chinese culture, ICT technologies, and how China has embraced and harnessed ICT technologies to build a connected world, starting with mobile payments, connected bicycles, smart transport systems, safe-city features, among others – all brought together in harmony through the Internet of things.”
Social media giant Facebook has consolidated its digital literacy programmes and is looking to equip 20 000 African youth with digital skills.