Digital Skills Development

Here’s why skills development is essential for young people

Young people in South Africa have been uniquely affected by the covid-19 pandemic in ways that both hinder and reshape their participation in economic growth. 

Most schools and universities have either closed or have transitioned from full time to part-time which resulted in young people being negatively impacted by the lack of education for some good long months.

This, however, has offered young South Africans a fresh perspective – a transition from classroom to online learning format. 

When young people are online, it creates opportunities for them to find work, build skills and increase their income with with online jobs. How familiar are young people with the jobs available for them to do?

Why is skills development critical for young people?

Stages of skills Development

This pandemic has caused an increase in unemployment. It seems far worse for last year’s matriculants who had plans to enter the market this year, or recent graduates.

Companies and organisations have cut staff and salaries in half, and the companies that are employing people – are looking for those with experience.  So what choice does a young person have?

Unless companies and organisations change their way of hiring people, it is important now, more than ever that a young person is well-equipped to enter the workforce. Despite being educated, skills are somewhat needed to get the job done. This is is what young people need to aim for. 

Organisations, Government and companies are creating online courses and training programs  to try and fix this issue by running a range of programs to support youth with developing employability skills that will be valued and needed in the marketplace.

I believe that the more a person knows about digital and technology, the more appealing they will be to a company or the organisation they want to serve. Digital literacy involves getting young people to become familiar with a variety of technologies so that they can use their skills to learn how to use any software, tool, or device within a potential company.

Did you know? Two-thirds of young people report that they’re economically affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and 46% of black youth who are not in school or university are also unemployed. These findings have recently been reported from the first wave of lockdown (20 May to 18 June).

Sadly many education institutes and higher learning institutes do not teach these skills as they have chosen to focus on general linear education, academic (how to read and write your profession) and later professional education (learn how to do your job). As we all know,young people need practice  and confidence by being offered the opportunity of open and authentic experiences in solving a wide range of problems because the most important skill young people need to develop before entering the workforce, is problem-solving skills.

Here are some of the skills development young people need to succeed in this new economy:

1. Problem solving skills

As I’ve said previously, the most important skill young people can develop before entering the workforce, is problem solving skills. Today’s economy no longer depends on physical work entirely. Workers need to be able to adapt to all sorts of problems that may come up.

Young people need to be well-versed in global problems and solutions. Unlike the past where employees will only deal with people in their region, young people will now have to work with people all over the world. It’s important for them to understand and appreciate real-time work issues, other cultures, work ethics, global protocols, legalities, different etiquette, various management skills and so on.

2. Youth entrepreneurship

Nowadays companies want workers who are forward-thinkers, and who can initiate changes and ideas on their own. While not all young people will end up going into business, those who end up working for companies still need a sense of entrepreneurship to succeed in today’s workforce.

Employers  are looking for people who can provide value and make a difference in their company – as well as someone who can do more than the expected list of duties due to the demand for digital services and therefore, skills

3. Curiosity and a love of learning

Having said all of that, employers also look for well-rounded individuals in the workplace. Someone who loves to learn is always an asset to their company. And the more you learn, the more you know, the more rounded you’ll be.

“Our future is indefinite, so there is no limit to what workers in the future may need to learn” – adapted from skillsyouneed

Young people really need to hold on to the curiosity and the love of learning they possessed as children. A study done by a group of experts with a project called ‘why you stop learning’, found that 56% of people stop learning after receiving a certificate of completion. That is why, it is so important for young people to learning in the right context, and walk away with important skills.

4. Applying logic – to work with data

In this new economy, big data has become crucial for business strategies and consumer targeting. Learning how to access, mine, assess, analyse and visualise data information is incredibly important for any new employee. Companies, government, organisations – are making use of valuable data for research, planning, selling, advertising, marketing – pretty much everything. 

5. Self knowledge, confidence and emotional intelligence

Young people need to know themselves well enough to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Communication skills are necessary in order to contribute and participate in the economies as well as communities. Without great communication skills, and the confidence to have your say – you will not be offered the opportunity to create, innovate or lead. 

Digital skills development programs offered by Change News Digital include all of these to ensure that disadvantaged young people are also included in the future work-force.

Click here if you would like to leave your details for notifications or alerts when there are digital skills programs available for you to join.

I hope you have found value in this post and don’t forget to leave your comment below. You can also share this article on social media with those who might benefit.


Once again thanks for your time. You’ve reached the end. Don’t forget to continue learning and growing your skills to better your future and succeed in this new economy.

– Phumzile Ntjan


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