As the world sits in limbo, waiting for the pandemic to run its course, we can't help but wonder what the future will look like. For the youth of our country especially - future leaders who had to stall their studies, graduate online, and put job searching on hold, tomorrow holds a lot of uncertainty. According to the Guardian: "the 'corona class of 2020' was the most exposed age group to the likely unemployment surge caused by the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the digital age we live in offers numerous resources to give them a step up and provide this country's youth a solid chance they need to prepare themselves for an uncertain future.
With June being Youth Month, there needs to be a focus on South Africa’s youth and, more importantly, their future. Many media outlets are painting a very bleak picture of the impact Covid-19 has already had on this vulnerable generation, yet focusing on the problem will not lead to a solution. The important takeout lesson for 2020 is that if the pandemic has had an impact on everything, how we do everything should be relooked: how we look after our environment, the way in which we engage with our fellow human beings, and, yes – how we educate ourselves.
This is why I’ve compiled five tips on how you can sharpen your skillset, without needing to spend a single cent.
Tip 1: Mind over matter
First of all, get your mindset right. Yes, the future looks uncertain and turbulent. But you are still in control of your future. Find your determination and will. Start by setting goals and systems that will help you to achieve your objectives. Understand why you want what you want. Useful resources include:
- The Goalcast channel on YouTube, which will help you find your inspiration.
- TED Talks can assist in delving deeper into interesting topics and exploring alternative perspectives.
- The website www.awakenthegreatnesswithin.com offers free downloadable resources.
- Future Proof Academy offers a free course on “What is your Moon shot?”.
Tip 2: Crack the code
Prepare yourself for the new world of work. Do some research and identify which skills are in high demand, are fitting for remote work, and cannot be automated easily.
The programmes listed below are all working towards solving two complex challenges: youth unemployment and the shortage of software skills in South Africa:
Before you start, remember to confirm which careers are headed for a dead end. A few examples include travel agent, telephone switchboard operator, postal worker, newspaper reporter, door-to-door salesperson, and more. A simple Google search will provide you with these project trends to ensure you avoid careers without bright futures in the digital age.
Tip 3: Work at your own pace in your own space
Don’t forget about the fast-rising Gig Economy. Gig workers are independent contractors, online platform workers, contract firm workers, on-call workers, and temporary workers. Gig workers enter into formal agreements with on-demand companies to provide services to the company's clients. There are multiple freelancing platforms available, such as Giraffe
Tip 4: Chart a course
If you have your heart set on obtaining a certificate or degree, consider taking advantage of the many free online education resources on the market today, such as:
These platforms offer leading-edge educational resources and access to some of the greatest minds in education in the world – for free.
Tip 5: Bursaries without burdens
Bursaries are offered by institutions and companies to make it affordable for people to study who would otherwise not be able to do so. A useful resource is zabursaries.co.za
for a list of all bursaries in South Africa for 2020 – 2021. Also look at corporate foundation websites; there are several South African and international businesses that offer bursaries and scholarships.
For post-graduate study, consider enquiring at the local offices of global institutions and embassies. There are several programmes that seek to invest in Africa’s next generation of leadership. A good website to start with is www.opportunitiesforafricans.com
Key skills of the future are resilience and adaptive learning. Work to adapt and overcome, find your niche and help rebuild our economy.