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Tshimangadzo Care Centre helps downtown Joburg’s yout...

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MAVERICK CITIZEN

Tshimangadzo Care Centre helps downtown Joburg’s youth to navigate career paths during Covid

Attendees of the career guidance youth event hosted by the Tshimangadzo Care Centre. (Photo: Gerald Gumbi / Marvellous Production))

In response to high youth unemployment and a lack of knowledge on career options available to unemployed youth, the Tshimangadzo Care Centre in the working-class suburb of Bertrams, Johannesburg, is providing career guidance and fresh ways of thinking about choosing a career path.

Research on vocational behaviour indicates that before 2020 being career-oriented had been considered a virtue. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted us to reflect on where we get our ideas of ambition from or why we even aspire towards certain career goals. It also challenges us in how we keep going in a disrupted climate. This societal shock has reinforced the need for career orientation in changed circumstances.

Tshimangadzo Care Centre, based in the working-class suburb of Bertrams in Johannesburg, Gauteng, is a knowledge hub for its community —  especially unemployed youth during the pandemic. In addition to providing computer skills and other practical training to unemployed youth and adults, it provides access to Covid impact recovery measures in the form of vocational ​guidance and professional orientation. It held its first career orientation session on 26 June 2021. 

According to the project manager, Thabile Mafidula, there are many more in the pipeline in the form of online webinars and small physical gatherings once lockdown restrictions are eased.

The event was enriched by contributions from the community of Bertrams, and a panel of speakers with academic and professional experience. This included Mahlatse Rabothata, a PhD candidate and first-year engineering lecturer at Wits University in Johannesburg.

The importance of self-knowledge

For Rabothata, a career has to be something you are good at and that makes you happy. “In your career of choice you should be able to recognise your set of skills (both hard and soft), personality, values and talents, and see where they can be used for the benefit of your community. Before committing to a career it is crucial that you understand yourself and also understand that careers are dynamic and ever-changing. Know yourself, so that the sky can be your stepping stone,” he said.

Rabothata is a qualified aeronautical and mechanical engineer, but his passion lies in engineering education. After working for several companies and quitting to finish his master’s degree, he got the opportunity of his dreams to work at Wits University’s Academic Development Unit. He now lectures at the university’s Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment and is a student “at-risk” coordinator.

While most of the young people at the event expressed concern over the lack of career guarantees in terms of what they have studied, they agreed that it was important to have explored other options while pursuing the job of their dreams.

Talentia Chikukwa, an aspiring singer, said although she might not be where she wanted to be, she was working towards it. Although unemployed she had been working on different projects not related to her dream career in order to survive. Using her voice remained the goal.

Rising to challenges, grabbing opportunities

“My voice is my asset in speech and music. I am currently self vocal training and whenever I get the chance to perform, like today, I [use the opportunity to] gain experience and get better,” said Chikukwa.

Rabothata was asked whether choosing a career was necessary, given the likelihood of not getting the job you desire, despite having the required training or education for it. His short answer was “Yes”.

“The world is dynamic, and we are faced with new challenges in all aspects of our lives, every day. These challenges create opportunities. It is important for a person to ask themselves what kind of challenges they would want to tackle. So the [crucial issue] is how well a person knows themselves,” Rabothata said.

Institutions of higher learning equip people with skills, and people should be thinking about how to utilise these to create solutions to problems. While seeking the job of your dreams, get involved in other things that may help you to create opportunities, he said.

In future, Tshimangadzo will work with Afrika Tikkun — a non-profit organisation dedicated to developing and uplifting young people in underprivileged communities in South Africa — in order to provide more training to the unemployed youth in Bertrams. DM/MC

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