Thursday, 05 July 2018

New education programme creates more employable youth

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Caption: Columba Leadership alumni (Domingo Nkuna), instructs learners as part of the ‘Absa ReadytoWork’ programme, where they received training on essential skills needed to gain future employment.

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. 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.   

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.    

For more information about Columba Leadership ( contact Tracy Hackland at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 011 440 5790.  


Tiffany Mac Sherry
084 423 3466
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Published in Science and Education