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Co-opting Philanthropy: Why the Elites Profit from Africa’s Skills Despair


The Looming Threat of South Africa’s Skills Crisis: A Call to Action for Businesses and Government

The crippling shortage of skilled workers in South Africa has reached a boiling point, threatening to derail the country’s economic growth and prosperity. The reality is stark: our education system is woefully inadequate, producing graduates who are unprepared for the demands of the modern job market. Meanwhile, businesses are struggling to find the right talent to drive innovation and progress.

But amidst this chaos, there is hope. A small band of entrepreneurs and innovators is fighting back against the odds, using technology and collaboration to find creative solutions to the skills crisis.

At the forefront of this movement is Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, a not-for-profit social enterprise that is revolutionizing the way young people access work and training opportunities. Their SA Youth platform has attracted over 4 million registered users, offering a window into a world of job prospects and skills development.

But Harambee doesn’t do it alone. They’ve formed a powerful partnership with Digital Solution Foundry (DSF), a tech powerhouse that is providing the technical expertise and talent to drive the SA Youth platform forward.

Trish Modrakowski, DSF’s technical project manager, is quick to point out that this partnership is about more than just accessing talent. "We’re not just providing bodies in seats," she says. "We’re working together to build a sustainable solution that will benefit young people and businesses alike."

Hanlie de Bod, Chief Information Officer at Harambee, agrees. "Our pain is their pain; our priorities are their priorities. When we have a crisis, we know we can call on them. That’s what makes a good partnership."

But as the skills crisis deepens, the question remains: what can businesses and government do to address this crisis?

One answer lies in upskilling and mentoring young people. By investing in entry-level youth and giving them the opportunity to work on real client projects, Harambee and DSF are showing that young people are worth the investment.

"The problem in the digital market is that people only want to hire people with experience, and they don’t want to invest in upskilling and mentoring people because they feel it takes too much time," says De Bod. "But I believe that it’s everybody’s responsibility to nurture young talent and play their part in growing our young people."

As the country grapples with the skills crisis, Harambee and DSF are proof that there is a better way. By working together, sharing knowledge and expertise, and investing in the next generation of workers, we can build a brighter future for South Africa.

But the clock is ticking. It’s time for businesses and government to take action and support initiatives like Harambee and DSF. The future of our economy depends on it.



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