When it comes to youth work readiness, it’s not only education and digital know-how that count, the youth need work experience in actual work environments.

To equip the youth of South Africa with skills that make them more employable and valuable, they need exposure to a range of experiences and workplace training. Apart from the opportunity to perform their work tasks with inputs by an experienced person, they need to be guided on, and equipped with, life and cognitive experiences. An accredited qualification, training in the real task, and digital adeptness are the foundation on which they can build these abilities. For example, being competent in using technology does not automatically translate into an ability to select the correct communication platform when interacting with a manager.

Expert opinion and research show that that there is a mismatch between what employers seek in an employee and the skills our youth have. Many school-leavers and graduates lack skills like problem-solving, leadership and networking. To rectify this, young individuals must be part of actual situations that happen daily in any organisation, such as quick decision making, critical thinking to solve problems, approaching tasks innovatively, being resilient, giving and receiving appropriate feedback, communicating timeously and correctly, handling conflict, enhancing customer experiences, being productive, managing time, working in a team, practising inclusion, and avoiding bullying and harassment.

By providing learnerships and internships or simply employing a young person, organisations can make a significant impact on personal growth, organisational skills’ development, and the economy.

Some of the practical ways that managers and mentors can guide our youth, so that they develop the skills to thrive in the workplace, are:

  • Quick Decision Making: expose them to real situations where they learn how to quickly come up with up options and limit them to the most suitable, show them how to be assertive and ask for help, set deadlines, and work through a plan.
  • Critical Thinking to Solve Problems: provide opportunities to solve complex problems and issues, encourage questions, challenge assumptions, brainstorm, and help them develop their own arguments.
  • Being Innovative: encourage them to take risks and experiment, fail fast, and give feedback on creative ideas.
  • Being Persistent and Resilient: Allow employees to finish activities, especially when faced with hurdles, and endure until a task or objective is completed to specification.
  • Communicating Effectively (including handling conflict): give them the opportunity to communicate in different situations and give inputs and guidance.
  • Enhancing Customer Experiences: allow them to interact with internal and external customers and pair them with an employee that offers excellent customer service consistently.
  • Being Productive and Managing Self: show them how to use traditional and digital tools and techniques to plan and organise themselves and give indications of how long tasks should typically take.
  • Collaborating in Work Teams: assign projects where they need to work with others, let them participate in group discussions and activities and coach them on how to contribute meaningfully to a team.

By developing these skills, young people can increase their chances of finding a permanent job or managing their own businesses successfully.

~ © The Learning Development Group

Workplace Learning
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