Lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment es­sen­tial to give hope to youth

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Sibani Mn­gomezulu Sibani Mn­gomezulu is Ex­ec­u­tive: Cor­po­rate Af­fairs at Bar­loworld, the JSE-listed dis­trib­u­tor of lead­ing global brands and provider of in­te­grated rental, fleet man­age­ment, prod­uct sup­port and lo­gis­tics so­lu­tions.

WHILE youth en­trepreneur­ship ini­tia­tives may not be the only an­swer to solv­ing a global youth un­em­ploy­ment prob­lem, it cer­tainly is prov­ing to be an ef­fec­tive con­tri­bu­tion in com­par­i­son to what big cor­po­ra­tions are adding.

It can be ar­gued then that maybe the role of big busi­ness is to sup­port the in­clu­sion of young en­trepreneurs by de­vel­op­ing their skills and abil­i­ties.

EY Global Job Cre­ation and Youth En­trepreneur­ship Sur­vey 2015, re­vealed that 47 per­cent of en­trepreneurs (and 77 per­cent of world-lead­ing en­trepreneurs) plan to in­crease the size of their work­force, com­pared to 29 per­cent of large cor­po­ra­tions.

The con­clu­sion of this find­ing is that “sup­port­ing en­trepreneurs to grow their busi­nesses will have an im­pact on em­ploy­ment rates.”

The sur­vey also re­vealed that 65 per­cent of the 2 800 young peo­ple sur­veyed, wanted to run their own busi­ness at some point in their ca­reers, with 27 per­cent want­ing to do so im­me­di­ately and 38 per­cent af­ter learn­ing from some­one else first.

They also found that these am­bi­tions were stronger in de­vel­op­ing mar­kets.

The re­al­ity, how­ever, is that skills trans­fer and ed­u­ca­tion still plays a vi­tal role when it comes to sus­tain­ing a busi­ness, which may ex­plain why many en­trepreneurs who have been in­volved in for­mal em­ploy­ment in the past, of­ten make bet­ter en­trepreneurs ver­sus those who do so straight af­ter school and fail.

Bring­ing it closer to home, this year’s World Eco­nomic Fo­rum (WEF) on Africa in Dur­ban dis­cussed the per­pet­u­at­ing cy­cle of poverty where more than 50 per­cent of South Africa’s pop­u­la­tion is un­em­ployed, 9.3 mil­lion peo­ple did not have jobs in the first quar­ter of 2017 and about 58 per­cent were young peo­ple be­tween the ages of 15-34. The youths of South Africa as in the rest of Africa are un­der 30 years old and rep­re­sent 60 per­cent of the work­force.

Turn­ing South Africa’s fast-grow­ing young pop­u­la­tion into a div­i­dend rather than a bur­den through fu­ture skills ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing is crit­i­cal in re­al­is­ing this po­ten­tial. This is likely to be am­pli­fied in the com­ing years due to the Fourth In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion, which is char­ac­terised by fast-paced tech­no­log­i­cal progress com­bined with other so­cio-eco­nomic and de­mo­graphic changes.

The WEF Fu­ture of Jobs study 2017 high­lights that skill de­mands will change sig­nif­i­cantly over the next five years, point­ing the im­por­tance of align­ing ed­u­ca­tion with skills needed.

For ex­am­ple, so­cial en­trepreneur­ship in South Africa is pow­er­ful and is emerg­ing as a blend of for and not-for-profit ap­proaches, which bal­ances the value and trust of so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions with the ef­fi­cien­cies and profit mo­tive of busi­ness.

Bar­loworld ac­knowl­edges the vi­tal role the youth play in so­cial in­no­va­tion and is a spon­sor of the En­ac­tus So­cial In­no­va­tion Youth Awards 2017 (BSIYA), which takes place to­day. The BSIYA recog­nise these En­ac­tus Youth Lead­ers for de­vel­op­ing new and in­no­va­tive ideas to ad­dress so­cial prob­lems. In sup­port­ing ini­tia­tives like these, we are able to play an im­por­tant role in pro­mot­ing en­trepreneur­ship, en­cour­ag­ing young peo­ple to im­prove lives and strengthen com­mu­ni­ties, and – at the same time – de­velop re­spon­si­ble lead­er­ship.

Big busi­ness holds the key to en­sur­ing the most ef­fec­tive way of sup­port­ing growth of an econ­omy is through the de­vel­op­ment of young peo­ple’s abil­i­ties to se­cure em­ploy­ment through dif­fer­en­ti­ated aca­demic jour­neys that de­velop en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills. As a lead­ing South African com­pany, Bar­loworld is tak­ing on the chal­lenge to play our part to help build our na­tion. That means help­ing its ci­ti­zens to ob­tain the skills they need to be­come ac­tive in the econ­omy, par­tic­u­larly those who sim­ply do not have the means or the sup­port to achieve their dreams.

Em­bed­ding en­trepreneur­ship at the heart of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is the key to un­lock­ing an eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment where the dreams of mil­lions of young peo­ple who want to make an im­pact and start their own en­ter­prises can be re­alised.

Sim­i­larly, through train­ing and skills trans­fer, youth en­trepreneurs can be­come re­spon­si­ble lead­ers who project con­cern for hu­man­ity and the earth in the con­text of ac­count­able busi­ness prac­tices.

Of Bar­loworld’s in­vest­ment ob­jec­tives, 57 per­cent of fund­ing is al­lo­cated to ed­u­ca­tion and lead­er­ship/youth de­vel­op­ment, which is aligned to the UN Global Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals and to South Africa’s Na­tional Im­per­a­tives. An­nu­ally, Bar­loworld in­vests ap­prox­i­mately R84.2m in such ini­tia­tives.

A key ini­tia­tive in the sup­port of youth de­vel­op­ment that Bar­loworld is in­vested in is that of En­ac­tus South Africa (for­merly Sife – Stu­dents in Free En­ter­prise) which brings to­gether stu­dent, aca­demic and busi­ness lead­ers com­mit­ted to us­ing en­tre­pre­neur­ial ac­tion to im­prove the sus­tain­abil­ity of broader so­ci­ety, im­prov­ing the qual­ity of life and the stan­dard of liv­ing for peo­ple in need. Par­tic­i­pat­ing stu­dents form teams on their ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion cam­puses to cre­ate and im­ple­ment com­mu­nity outreach projects, an ex­pe­ri­ence which not only trans­forms lives but helps stu­dents de­velop the tal­ent and perspective that are es­sen­tial to lead­er­ship.

The Bar­loworld Trust was es­tab­lished to en­sure in­vest­ment in tar­geted in­ter­ven­tions which ad­dress some of the fore­most prob­lems in South Africa so­ci­ety in a struc­tured, sys­tem­atic man­ner. The main fo­cus is on im­prov­ing learner out­comes and fa­cil­i­tat­ing ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion in South Africa.

Other ini­tia­tives in­clude:

Teach South Africa which recruits, trains and sup­ports top univer­sity grad­u­ates to teach math­e­mat­ics, science, English or tech­nol­ogy for a min­i­mum of two years in some of South Africa’s most un­der-re­sourced schools.

Topp, Bar­loworld’s Train­ing Out­side Pub­lic Prac­tice pro­gramme is an al­ter­na­tive route for ac­count­ing stu­dents to qual­ify as char­tered ac­coun­tants. This prac­ti­cal pro­gramme builds the skills of fu­ture lead­ers and ad­dresses the cur­rent short­age of skills in our coun­try.

Grad­u­ates of the Topp pro­gramme of­ten take up per­ma­nent jobs in the com­pany.

Reap (Ru­ral Ed­u­ca­tion Ac­cess Pro­gramme), as­sists stu­dents from poor ru­ral ar­eas in South Africa to ac­cess ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion by pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion; pro­vides stu­dents with a struc­tured sup­port and de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme on cam­pus to fa­cil­i­tate suc­cess in their stud­ies.

Em­pow­er­ing in­di­vid­u­als, break­ing cy­cles of poverty, ad­dress­ing the coun­try’s skills short­ages and con­tribut­ing to na­tional com­pet­i­tive­ness through en­trepreneur­ship will ul­ti­mately re­sult in eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment.

It is es­sen­tial to adopt an in­te­grated ap­proach to en­trepreneur­ship and lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment while mak­ing the pre­req­ui­site in­vest­ment in early child­hood de­vel­op­ment to ca­reer.

This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant in un­der­priv­i­leged com­mu­ni­ties as it will en­able ca­pac­ity build­ing as well as the right strate­gic part­ner­ships in civil so­ci­ety.

Through the de­liv­ery of these syn­er­gies and their in­no­va­tions, we will equip our youth with the right skills they re­quire to not only start their busi­nesses but sus­tain them in a man­ner that encourages job cre­ation and makes pos­i­tive so­cial and eco­nomic con­tri­bu­tions.

Par­tic­i­pat­ing stu­dents form teams on their ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion cam­puses to cre­ate and im­ple­ment com­mu­nity outreach projects.

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