Corporates Have the Power to Change our Unemployment Numbers #ThisIsUs


Corporates who invest in specialist partners to support their skills development initiatives, have the power to help change the alarming unemployment statistics in South Africa.


The correlation between unemployment statistics and education levels in South Africa is a clear indicator that skills development, tertiary education, and training are not only critical to the transformation of our economy but also to ensure that such transformation assures rapid growth and future prosperity.


Unemployment is very low among graduates (2.4 percent) and those with other tertiary qualifications (7.7. percent).


Of the 7,8 million South Africans who found themselves unemployed in the second quarter of 2021, as many as 51,5 percent had education levels below matric, which was followed closely by those with no more than matric at 38 percent.


Among those corporates benefiting from a crowdfunding solution provided by public benefit organization Feenix, is energy technology company Baker Hughes.


Simo-Sihle Mvinjelwa, country leader for transformation at Baker Hughes, says of his journey with their skills development partner: “They remove the administrative burden from us, with the reach they have in the right type of environments and at the right places of study.


“We do not have the resources to reach out in the way they can connect with suitable applicants. Also, we’ve recently adjusted our bursary programme to become more strategic and intentional in its alignment to critical and scarce skills for our business – rather than just a tick-box exercise or just spending our skills development budget to achieve the right score. Feenix has responded with agility and a bespoke client experience that empowers us to look at candidates through a different lens.


“Yes, from a B-BBEE perspective there is a range of objectives for us to meet, but because Baker Hughes strives to go beyond compliance, we really wanted to see the pipeline of opportunity we were creating, so that whomever we fund, or support, will ultimately be suitable for absorption into our operations.”


B-BBEE specialist and director of Human Nature Consulting, Jo-Anne Hay, believes that being a good corporate citizen in South Africa should stretch to addressing our collective challenges as a nation and striving to release what economic potential we can.


“Companies can do good business and contribute to helping government meet our country’s main challenge – unemployment – in a constructive way. The amended B-BBEE Skills Development scorecard places a specific focus on providing bursaries and support for higher education students to the tune of 2,5 percent of payroll. This is a significant part of the Skills Development target. The B-BBEE Commission’s focus on skills development presents a win-win scenario for all.”


Hay works closely with Feenix, a PBO that was launched in June 2017 to highlight the extremely high cost of tertiary education and the impact of financial stress on student success rates.


“The technology that we use allows corporates to spend their skills development budget on the demographic, field of study, or university of their choice and presents the ideal opportunity to select the future professionals they want to employ,” says Feenix CEO Leana de Beer.


It is evident that the power to kick start the economy and reverse the negative impact of unemployment by setting up a strategic partnership with the best people in skills development not only removes the administrative effort of achieving B-BBEE goals; but also reveals an entirely new value proposition for ambitious students and forward-thinking corporates, alike.