(Published - 29 June 2018)
The Future Leaders Entrepreneurship Programme, initiated by UWC’s School of Business and Finance Director, Prof Ricardo Peters, could help reduce the youth unemployment rate - and empower a new generation of entrepreneurs, especially in rural communities.
Tackling the country’s high youth unemployment rate is part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan for radical economic transformation. This month, the president has called for the “wavering of experience as a job requirement for young graduates” and criticised the unemployment rate.
According to Stats SA, the unemployment rate among young people aged 15–34 was 38,2% in the first quarter of 2018. This means that more than one in every three young people in the labour force did not have a job between January and March this year.
The Future Leaders programme tackles this problem at the source.
“We focus on youth who have matric, but couldn’t study further due to financial challenges and are sitting bored at home,” says Prof Peters.
Youth in remote parts of the country have been targeted - including Nababeep and its surrounding areas in the Northern Cape, where 55 students are being trained in entrepreneurship.
The School has taken a different approach to teaching, focusing primarily on the practical aspects of starting and running a business.
“We’re not hammering them with a lot of theory, but instead we have them look at challenges in their communities and ask them to develop entrepreneurial ventures based on what they see around them,” says Prof Peters. “We want them to ask themselves: ‘How can I create work for myself and for others?’”
“The challenge is that in the past, the mines in the area provided the bulk of income for the surrounding areas, but this won’t be the case any longer. The youth will have to create their own sources of income, and we’re aligning our goals in support of government’s goals of obtaining radical economic transformation by tackling youth unemployment.”
This 10-month programme exposes participants to other UWC programmes as well, and this will improve their chances of studying at the University.
“It’s about getting the youth to think differently to unleash their creativity and build it into a business, with management and finance skills courses bringing it all together,” Prof Peters explains.
“It’s about preparing school leavers, students, graduates and current and aspiring entrepreneurs for future opportunities in their own business ventures or in formal working environments.”
Many of the students, Prof Peters notes, lack “self-belief” when they begin the programme. And many of them find language to be an obstacle as well, as the majority of them are Afrikaans-speaking.
“Now we’re at a point where we can see students gain so much confidence that they can easily identify business opportunities, and they’re presenting their business ideas in English - while making use of the latest technology,” Prof Peters notes.
“We’re still in the early stages of the programme, but we can already see signs of unlocked hidden potential, and it’s clear these students are starting to develop an entrepreneurial and innovative mindset.”
What does the programme cover?
The programme has ten modules and will be covered over two semesters (four terms). It is underpinned by a modular structure and has been designed to align with the thinking of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF level 5). Classes takes place for four days per week. Certain practical activities (including field trips and excursions) take place after hours and/or on Saturdays. The learning process has been structured to ensure students gain as much experience as possible.