Africa Business Communities
[Column] Lizelle Strydom: Why skills development will always be a priority investment

[Column] Lizelle Strydom: Why skills development will always be a priority investment

January is the start of a brand-new year, and the time when millions of matriculants and recent graduates begin their search for employment. This is likely to be an arduous search for many young people. There are many barriers to entry into meaningful routes into employment for matriculants without further education, and even graduates may find it harder than anticipated to secure employment.

The lack of opportunity, combined with a lack of resources to either study further or find an entry-level job, impede our youth from work that offers genuine opportunities for advancement.

The numbers tell a startling story. In 2023, The International Labor Organisation (ILO) found that more than 72 million young Africans were Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET), with most of them young women. Locally, Statistics SA reported that approximately 3,7 million (36,1%) out of 10,2 million young people aged 15-24 years were Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). An ailing global economy only compounds the factors stacked against our African youth. However, it's not all doom and gloom for our motivated and resourceful youth.

Impact sourcing provides a gateway into employment

One of the great advantages of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry is that this is a sector where individuals with varied educational backgrounds and qualifications all have an opportunity to enter the workforce.

Youth with minimal to no experience or tertiary training can succeed and thrive in an industry where the right attitude, good communication skills and an aptitude for working with people are highly valued.

Impact sourcing is a powerful tool to provide work opportunities for highly driven skilled young people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the industry offers better gender parity than many others. In South Africa, for example, industry body BPESA notes that female contact centre agents and knowledge workers make up about two thirds of the BPO sector.

Work readiness training is an important part of impact sourcing, as it bridges the digital divide by providing digital, technical and soft skills development for NEET youth. Uplifting these youth through demand-led training is just one way of delivering long-term solutions to the continent's youth unemployment crisis. And once they have embarked on a career in the BPO industry, adding to their skills set with accredited training will take them further and higher than that starting point.

Accredited training helps build careers

On-the-job training and a mindset of continuous learning help our youth to grow and build their careers. Here, accredited training is an invaluable asset. If offers peace of mind to both students and employers alike that the training they are undertaking provides them with comprehensive, well-planned and comprehensive training that ties into the general requirements of most certification boards. Accreditation also provides employers with an easy way to determine if an employee or job candidate has a qualification that has equipped them with the knowledge and skills to do a particular job – this is a huge advantage in the competitive job market.

The benefits of completing accredited training programmes are manifold. Employers are guaranteed that accredited programmes and institutions are competent to provide training to an industry standard and calibre, while the learner can rest assured that future employers will recognise the value of their certification.

Developing industry-specific skills

As an impact sourcing specialist working in the BPO sector, the CareerBox Academy offers NQF level training in Contact Centre Support, Contact Centre Operations, Business Administration Services, and Contact Centre Management, among others, to develop further skills in the BPO industry. To date we have trained more than 5,000 learners. The benefits show in the numbers – 80,7% of CareerBox entrants have been promoted since being employed.

For those talented and determined young people who want to pursue a career in the BPO industry, not just as a contact centre agent, but as a team leader, a floor manager, or even a director, accredited training is an important part of the career journey. Work readiness training is a crucial first step, and for anyone with aspirations for career advancement that leads to a brighter, more secure future, accredited training will always be a priority.

Lizelle Strydom is the Managing Director at CareerBox


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