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Opinionista

Let’s make ‘building South Africa’ our shared trend for 2024 and a better future

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Pieter Twine is General Manager: MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet. A Retail Specialist, GM, Loyalty (International Loyalty Awards Judge) and Strategic CSI professional with more than 36 years’ experience in the retail industry, Twine has a keen interest in Human Behaviour Economics and the "why" customers respond to brands.

It’s the time of year when organisations try to discern the trends that will drive their business and lead their customers for the year ahead, in an attempt to anticipate customer needs and wants and understand the challenges and opportunities presented by their industries.

Predicting ‘what’s next’ for South Africa Incorporated for 2024 presents several challenges — but the trends that are constants on the country’s radar are improving educational prospects and then putting graduates into jobs, in a bid to drive the economy.

Towards the end of January when the Matric results are announced, we’ll be putting around one million new job seekers into an already-constrained economic environment.

Building leadership and education

The public sector launches initiatives — some, like the Youth Employment Service (YES) bear fruit while others fall by the wayside and the private sector does what it can to balance innovation, growth, risk, and keeping its current employees in jobs. 

The NGO sector is also doing its bit — initiatives like MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet’s own Dream2Teach Scholarship Fund give students the chance to reach their teaching dreams. In partnership with St Peter’s Foundation and the Realema Teacher Intern Programme, young people who may not be able to afford to study for the qualification have the chance to achieve their teaching dream. The programme and its partners offer each student a bursary to cover the costs of tuition and books; placement at recognised educational institutions; a peer-support network, mentoring and coaching, and internship opportunities to top schools for work experience.

CitizenLeaderLab’s School Leadership Forum is dedicated to advancing the professional growth of principals, school management teams, and school governing bodies. It equips them with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills essential for navigating their challenging roles and addressing formidable leadership obstacles. The programme hosts presentations and panel discussions by experts on a wide range of education and leadership-related topics. These sessions are conducted both in-person and online, ensuring accessibility and flexibility.

Providing real opportunities

We also support and partner with organisations like Explore AI and Anchor of Hope. ExploreAI is an international data and AI company that runs the ExploreAI Academy which transforms the lives of talented youth in Africa by equipping them with modern, relevant skills that enable them to find meaningful work.

They teach data science and data engineering courses in an agile, project-based way. Students are immersed in the world of problem-solving and are prepared for jobs and problems in the real world. MySchool funds the enrolment of 10 learners into the Academy, who are assisted with finding full-time employment once completed. The starting salaries for data engineering and science graduates range between R200,000 and R350,000 per annum, which is life-changing for the graduates, and their families.

Anchor of Hope, based in Bloemfontein, teaches the essential skill of basic welding to help graduates be functional in society by contributing to the workforce, community, and economy. 100% of the students who graduated in 2021 are now employed and earning regular, empowering salaries.

Harnessing shared value

While the unemployment numbers make for terrifying reading, education and job creation initiatives are in operation across the country. In a place where inaction is often the order of the day, society is banding together to do something about a challenge we face — linking shared value to a higher purpose. Shared value depends on four pillars:

  • an emotional connection to a cause;
  • a desire to create a higher order that exceeds the good any individual can do;
  • the relevance of the cause and what lengths people will go to, to support it; and
  • credibility — is the solution legitimate and does it have the best interests of its beneficiaries at heart?

We rely on our supporters to sign up for our programme and support our over 8,500 beneficiaries via card swipes at retailers who generously contribute funds for each swipe. Through this, we are harnessing the shared value approach to helping people participate in the formal economy, improving food and water security and assisting in developing sustainable ecosystems that help communities thrive. It’s collective action, aimed at the purpose of bettering our country, our world, and our planet by tackling the challenges we know we face. 

Stronger together

We must focus on trying to change what is in front of us. We want to make South Africa a better place to live, a more competitive global player, and the kind of country we can be proud of. 

By actively working with beneficiaries desperate to make a difference, we harness the power of shared value — together, we can help produce more teachers who can educate more learners, who can achieve better marks and have the world opened up to them. This enables SA youth to take charge of their lives and their communities by establishing entrepreneurial ventures, employing more people and exponentially improving our country. DM

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