The young population (15 – 24) is probably being hit hardest by the Coronavirus pandemic. In South Africa youth represent a vital source of human capital. Interruptions in education, TVET training and other opportunities such as learnerships are all issues that have impacted the youth. The minority who has managed to secure jobs are now facing challenges with job security as companies downsize and retrench to adjust to the new normal.
The impacts of the pandemic have not just been in areas of youth unemployment and skills development. Young people, particularly female, have had to contend with increased instances of gender-based violence (GBV) and various forms of discrimination. The disabled, homeless and unemployed alike are all in a place where daily survival has come into question.
A Solution Through Digital Transformation
While most would only see doom and gloom, there may be an opportunity or two that the current state of affairs offer. Young people are often looked at as the accelerator and main driver in development. For any country, South Africa included, how we come out of this pandemic and regain our socio-economic trajectory will in a huge part be dependant on the skill level of the young population. One can thus see a clear relationship between youth employment and skills development in relation to national prosperity. This then begs the question, ‘How?’, in a new world of social distancing, sanitizing and what has now become known as ‘The New Normal.’
One thing that the pandemic has made clear is the significance of digital technology to both the economy and education, especially as it relates to youth employment and skills development. All aspects of industry i.e. education, supply chains and retail have had to quickly adapt and integrate technological solutions in order to ensure survival during and post-lockdown. Prior to Covid-19, South Africa had already embraced technology in a number of ways. Such innovative solutions like SnapScan, QR Codes and mobile apps were already starting to change how we conduct business.
As such, it only makes sense that educational institutions, as well as the economy as a whole make more use of technology. Some of the areas where technology can come into play include:
- Face to face interaction through video calling
- Improvement in engagement as students have more interaction on tech platforms
- Increased knowledge retention with various learning models such as 3D modeling, Virtual Reality etc.
- Possibility of individualized learning, even in schools where student – teacher ratios are very high
- Encouraged collaboration between learners even when learners are miles apart
Enhancing South Africa’s Skills Readiness For A Successful Future
Given all that is happening around us, it is most important to make headway as far as investing in youth employment and skills development is concerned. Digital transformation is of great significance if we are to progress and make headway in turning around the current state of affairs.