New education programme creates more employable youth

South African School Girl Matric

The programme hopes to positively influence the future of learners, by giving them the essential tools needed for the transition from school into the working world.


South Africa’s youth unemployment problem has consistently been ranked as one of the worst in the world.

As we observe World Youth Skills Day on 13 July 2018, it is difficult to overlook the fact that 64% of our young people are currently unemployed. This shocking statistic can be attributed to a wide range of socio-economic factors such as poor levels of education and lack of mobility.

Columba, Absa and M4JAM have recently announced the roll-out of the ‘Absa ReadytoWork’ programme in 20 schools across the country, in response to the situation and to empower learners with the skills needed to succeed.

Founded in 2009, the Columba mission is to build a national movement of ethical leaders for youth enterprise and employment and social good.

“We develop the character of young leaders in schools using values. Supported by their educators and principal, they form teams with peers and implement projects to fix challenges they face in their schools and communities. In the process they all learn important skills like critical thinking, collaboration, communication and resilience, and introduce the spirit of enterprise and social action into schools.”

Columba Leadership is a non-profit youth based leadership organisation that has worked in 169 schools in nine-years; assisting each school for several years to build capacity in order for the school to sustain the programme. The organisation works to help youths from impoverished backgrounds access their full potential and sense of purpose through value-focussed and innovative ways that build character and develop essential life skills that are necessary for success in and after school.

“Instead of treating unemployed youth as a problem, we’ve made them part of the solution and employed them to upskill other unemployed youths. This approach has allowed students and facilitators to meet on common ground, as each member understands the harsh realities faced in these areas enabling them to contextualise the information accordingly,” says Tracy Hackland, Columba CEO. “The next generation needs to be innovative to help solve the problems we face today,” concludes Hackland.

Young leaders become role models and respected change who make a contribution to improving discipline and a creating a more conducive learning and development environment in schools. We stablish a multiyear partnership with schools, engage all school stakeholders, train educators, cluster schools and align with education department processes so that schools maintain the impact after we have gone as the school embeds youth engagement into its culture.

The programme hopes to positively influence the future of 5 000 grade 10 and 11 learners, by giving them the essential tools needed for the transition from school into the working world. The roll-out comes after the success of last year’s pilot programme in 13 schools in Gauteng.

“Although schools do their best to teach learners everything they need to know in the curriculum, they do not always have the means or the time to equip learners with all the skills necessary to attain employment and keep it,” says Desmond Zeelie, Columba special projects officer. “With this platform, we hope to enhance and bring some relief to our over-loaded and over-worked education system,” he continues.

The programme is made-up of four modules, which focus on enhancing work skills such as finding and applying for suitable jobs; people skills like interpersonal skills needed when working in a team; money skills to do with managing personal finances, and entrepreneurial skills related to those required when starting a business. These courses are facilitated and conducted by trained Columba alumni, which in turn provide the alumni with employment, experience and the opportunity to make a difference.

Sources: Columba Leadership
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