Silhouettes Jumping - Cape Digital FoundationCan the creativity and innovation that is taking place across Africa be harnessed to accelerate progress in education?

In its latest quarterly labour force survey which polls South African households, Statistics South Africa reports that in the three-month period from January to March 2018, the working-age population increased by 153,000 as compared to the last quarter of 2017. “South Africa’s unemployment rate is high for both youth and adults, however, the unemployment rate among young people aged 15–34 is reported at 38.2 percent, implying that more than one in every three young people in the labour force did not have a job in the first quarter of 2018.”  It also reports that the number of discouraged work-seekers has increased by 249,000 over this period.  Stats SA reports that approximately 3.3 million young people aged 15 to 34 were not in employment, education or training in the first quarter of 2018. “Some of these young people have become discouraged with the labour market and they are also not building on their skills-base through education and training – they are not in employment, education or training (NEET).”

Even young people who are already employed are not feeling equipped

Consider the significance of this information in conjunction with the information published in Deloitte’s annual Millennial Report 2018, where Millennials and Generation Z ,even those in first world economies with relatively highly levels of employment, express that they lack confidence that they can succeed work-wise in an Industry 4.0 environment because they do not feel equipped. This report finds that it is understandable that younger generation employees are eager for business to prepare their organisations and employees for the changes that Industry 4.0 is bringing to the workplace.

What will it take to equip South Africa’s young people who are not employed?

In a research report titled Leapfrogging Inequality, Remaking education to help young people thrive, The Brookings Institution poses this question: Can the creativity and innovation that is taking place across Africa be harnessed to help accelerate progress in education?

While there are incredible initiatives across the country which are doing an amazing job of equipping our school and working age youth to become work ready and partake in the digital economy, these are still only pockets of activity – and they hinge on being Internet-connected.  What about the numbers of young people in townships and informal settlements who do not have ready access to the Internet? The Cape Digital Foundation believes that the solution starts with wholesale access to Internet connectivity.  Before creativity and innovation can be harnessed on a wholesale scale in order to progress smart education that readies our young citizens to live in smart cities and townships, the majority of South African citizens need to have easy access to reasonably priced Internet connectivity.

Give young people Internet connectivity and they will equip each other

Africa has a disproportionately young population, with 62 percent of the population under 25 years of age.  South Africa is brimming with an energetic and passionate generation of young and ambitious innovators and entrepreneurs.  The Foundation believes it is ‘switched on’ Millennials and Generation Z who will innovate to ready young people and transform the South African marketplace and world of work – in ways we cannot yet anticipate, starting from the ground up.

In answer to the question: As South Africa’s cities and township continue to grow and become the smart cities and townships of the future The Cape Digital Foundation believes that given Internet connectivity, digital skills and the opportunity to collaborate, it is our younger generations who will innovate to accelerate the progress in education and training.


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