The future of the country lies in the hands of South Africa’s young people. With this in mind, Transnet Rail Freight, in partnership with the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, hosted a Career Day in Diepsloot, in northern Johannesburg, for local high school children.
The message from the speakers was consistent – education is the key.
Transnet Freight Rail’s Caesar Mtetwa, who is also the president of the National Society of Black Engineers, pointed out the urgent need for engineers in South Africa.
“This country needs 15 000 skilled engineers, but only 1 500 quality each year – it’s not enough.” Without engineers, there would be no roads, no electricity… no malls, the youngsters were told.
Such skills were required to build the country’s infrastructure and support its economic growth – creating jobs.
Some sobering facts raised during the day included: in the age group of 18- to 24-year-olds there were some 2.4 million people who had matric but who were unemployed; and that some 4.7 million people of working age were unable to find work.
However, some initiatives are under way to tackle unemployment. The pupils were told about bursaries available, were given advice on accessing funds and information, and also learned more about several career paths. Transnet offers financial support to students who go on to university, provided they get 60% for maths and science for matric.
Mtwetwa noted that in 2013, Transnet sponsored 1 000 university students – although it had been prepared to fund double that number. “There are people waiting to help you,” he told the young audience. “Just study hard to get those marks.”
Another organisation represented on the Career Day panel, Harambee, told pupils how it helped high-potential matriculants aged between 18 and 28 by preparing them for the workplace and then finding a suitable match for them with partner companies.
Harambee’s Lebo Nke noted the importance of young people staying in employment for at least a year. She pointed out that if they succeeded, the chances of remaining in employment for the rest of their working life increased by 85%.
Many of the panellists shared their own experiences, giving hope to the Diepsloot youngsters. Grade 10 learner Clive Molubi from Leap High School saw the day as an important event as he wanted to find out about different job opportunities. “I’m preparing for my future,” he added.
Former radio presenter Hector Motau spoke about his road to becoming a motivational speaker, describing how, as a young student from a rural village, he had set up TNT Radio, the first campus radio in the country. TNT was Technikon Northern Transvaal and is now Tshwane University of Technology.
“So what’s your excuse,” he challenged the young listeners.
Each panellist offered pragmatic advice to the pupils, most of whom were in grades nine, 10 and 11 at local high schools: prepare for your future now, don’t delay; set goals and act on them; choose a career path that interests you; get rid of any distractions that sway you from your path; and read.
Sponsors of the Career Day included Brand South Africa, Cell C, the Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Harambee, the South West Gauteng College, Junior Chamber International and Cida City Campus.
Tables were set up with experts on hand to offer career advice.