More than two-thirds of young people in South Africa cannot find work, yet businesses regularly report that they can’t find the “right” person for the job. When they do hire a first-time jobseeker, these youngsters often behave in a way that makes you certain that they’re from another planet. From inappropriate dress and poor self-discipline to being on their phones and a disregard for company policies and authority – when they have this golden opportunity, why does it so often come with attitude and a lack-lustre work ethic?
“As training providers, we need to be a lot smarter about all the dimensions of employability if we really want to support young people to successfully find and keep a job,” says Sean Sharp, Executive Head of Sales at EduPower Skills Academy.
Based on feedback from the marketplace, EduPower took a long, hard look at its learners, most of whom are people with disabilities from disadvantaged backgrounds. “What we found is that our youngsters lack the confidence, self-belief and even the basic knowledge of workplace protocol. So, when they do find jobs, they are so scared of making mistakes, they either freeze or flee,” Sean explains.
Determined to set their learners up for successful careers, the EduPower team began looking at innovative solutions to ensure their learners could break through their perceived limitations. The result has been a powerful training partnership with InterConnection SA. Working together since August last year, the results have been nothing short of remarkable.
Tanya Price-Carr, the CEO of InterConnection SA, has been responsible for setting up the EduPower programme, which runs for the full 12 months of the learnership. Every learner in the Academy attends one four-hour group session every other week with InterConnection SA, completing different modules and individual mentoring.
“Working with EduPower has been incredible. Using Occupational Intelligence methodology, we’ve developed a programme to move the Academy’s learners to their optimum level,” Tanya explains. “We are giving the learners the skills they need to take the next step in their lives, to connect with their strength and potential to realise their goals, helping them to fully understand what they can achieve.”
The InterConnection SA training is based on experiential learning as Tanya says this is essential to create the “shift” that is needed for individuals to create new possibilities in their lives.
“Experiential learning is key for anyone to shift from dependency to dignity. When you experience something new, you move from the unknown to the known and this will move you from anxiety to volition. When you get this right, you get an “I can” moment which increases your self-confidence, allowing you to approach many things in your life with greater ease and less fear, making you more responsive to life and become more resilient,” Tanya explains.
The programme also includes other valuable lessons that prepare the learners for employment. Tanya says that while this is achieved in various ways, one of the key skills addressed is financial management.
“Youngsters have no idea how to manage their money so when they start work, by the middle of the month they’re broke, and they can’t afford to travel to work, leading to absenteeism and even dismissal. We teach them how to manage a budget and also explain savings and why it’s essential to save for their bigger goals and dreams,” says Tanya.
These key skills are the fundamentals for personal growth and personal dependence. Tanya says that in the training, the learners are exposed to many new experiences in a safe environment so that when they experience anything new in real life, it doesn’t create fear, it creates excitement.
“When this shift happens, we know they’ve made the breakthrough needed,” Tanya says.
Learners make the shift at different stages of the programme and it’s proving to be so successful that the partnership between EduPower and InterConnection SA is definitely the start of a new breed of youth enablement. It develops the learner in all facets of their lives as well as the lives they will impact in their families and their communities.
Sean concludes: “It’s amazing to see our learners transform as they begin to believe in their own abilities, to see them have new hope for their future. We invested in the partnership with InterConnection SA to ensure that our learners graduate as well-rounded individuals who have all the tools they need to succeed in business and entrepreneurship. It’s incredibly rewarding to see that our training delivers this and so much more.”