According to statistics from Trading Economics the youth unemployment rate in South Africa – before the COVID-19 outbreak – decreased to 58.10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 from 58.20 percent in the third quarter of 2019. This small margin is definitely not something to be celebrated; especially considering the after-effects of this pandemic on the global economy in the first half of this year.
One of the challenges faced by this country’s youth has been to secure employment after graduating as companies are always looking for candidates with experience. But the big question is ‘where is the youth supposed to obtain this experience from?’ immediately after graduating. In addition, skills shortage remains one of the challenges of the 21st century in developing countries like South Africa.
It is for this reason that an initiative such as the internship programme has been adopted by South African public and private organisations such as the Afrovation Group to enhance skills development, knowledge and experience. Afrovation has been playing its part in the country’s internship programme since 2017, when it took a specific group of eight (8) graduates – aged between 18-35 years – under its wing to be groomed by its experienced, senior employees within the company. The intended end result after the ten (10) month programme was not only to train, coach and mentor these graduates, but to also absorb some of the graduates into permanent employment.
Maxwell Ramutla, Group CEO of Afrovation says: “As we speak, 50% of these graduates have been employed on a full-time basis and they are still with the company assigned to senior employees to ensure their continued growth in their respective fields of study. As Afrovation, we did not only provide these unemployed graduates with workplace experience that builds on their qualifications because it is stipulated by the Media Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT Seta) – but we also did this because we felt that it was the right thing to do. This one of our core driving principles, that business success should always be aligned to community growth and development.”
Despite the prevailing global economic climate, Afrovation is one of the African companies that is still willing to partner with the local MICT Seta in its quest to use the concept of Internships to fast track high level skills transfer, to offer the much-needed work experience to unemployed graduates and empower them with practical knowledge that commensurate with their qualification.
Kedidimetse ‘Didi’ Sebopela, a 27-year old from Mapobane, Pretoria, is now an Account Manager at the Afrovation Group after starting off as an intern in 2017. She says: “My four-year experience at Afrovation has been a roller coaster ride, I’ve had to learn to swim in very deep waters and have over the years been forced out of my comfort zone. This has helped me to grow as a person and in my career path.
“I am now very confident with myself and my work, I do everything to the best of my abilities but at the same time have allowed myself to be guided by the amazing team that I work with. In all honesty, to be employed during these tough economic times that face companies globally is a blessing. Afrovation has not just provided me with an employment opportunity but also a chance to be part of a diverse family with a great culture.”
Besides the youth that has been employed through the internship programme, the company has in its employ 16 young people of which 50% are female out of a total of 35 employees. Afrovation is experienced in providing technology solutions, through cloud email services, telecommunications infrastructure, data enrichment and verification. These young, budding employees have had the opportunity to be exposed to the different aspects of the business.
Ramutla explains: “As Afrovation, we do not operate in a vacuum, our company is also impacted by the negative outlook on unemployment that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic threatening millions of jobs in South Africa and causing what seems to be insurmountable economic depression. Our company has in the last few months – during the COVID-19 Lockdown – been occupied by the need to save the jobs that it has created in the last few years. This is also done to protect the strides that we have made in defining a lasting value proposition and ensuring that we continue to deliver the services promised to our entire client base.”