In celebration of what would have been uTata Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, My School My Village My Planet and Better SA, partnered to host an innovative, collaborative event to help combat youth unemployment. Going beyond the traditional 67 minutes of volunteerism, the event, which took place on Saturday, 14 July, gathered 72 volunteers to help youths from local youth development organisations to attain the essentials of workplace readiness. I was privileged to participate in this event as a volunteer and the experience will be one which I cherish for a very long time, because growing up in a township meant that I saw the impact of youth unemployment daily. As a result, youth development is a huge passion of mine.
The event was an all-encompassing career workshop, facilitated through individualized attention and one-on-one coaching, which I believe, enabled each student to feel comfortable to ask their burning questions and really open up about their challenges, without fear.
It’s important to remember that in the fight against poverty, our skills, life experience and abilities to coach and mentor can make a significant difference, especially when it comes to preparing the youth for the world of work. As “seasoned” professionals, we may have forgotten just how difficult it was to make an impression at our first interview, without work experience and prior exposure to a formal work environment. For these youths, getting tips from someone who has walked the journey, provided hope and had a visible impact.
CV Writing, interview skills and wardrobe fitting
The 67 beneficiaries of the volunteer experience came from local youth programmes Ikamva Youth, YES Youth Employment Service, Refilwe Community Project and the Emdeni Youth Programme, and were transported to the venue through the BetterSA minibus system. There they encountered the volunteers manning three different stations, and over a three-hour process they took vital steps to becoming work ready.
Firstly, their handwritten CVs were transformed into professional, typed profiles, and they learnt the importance of organising and presenting their information for optimum impact.
Next, they went through role-modelling interviews with intensive coaching that helped to prepare them for the rigours of job interviews, build their confidence and help them prepare for a successful interview. With my recruitment and talent management background, I was naturally drawn to this station and I’m so glad that I could use my skills and knowledge to empower them for their interview process.
To cap their work-ready experience, the third station was wardrobe-fitting. Volunteers helped them get fitted with a quality collared shirt and pants or skirt provided by Clothing Bank, plus a jacket and a tie, while sharing advice on the importance of a professional appearance.
What was intended to just inspire these young people, ended up inspiring me and the rest of the volunteers so much as well. It was not only about what we could do for them, but what they did for us on Saturday. What stood out most for me, was the confidence and tenacity that these youngsters showed; despite their personal challenges, like unemployment and lack of funds to further their education, they are determined to make an impact in our society and be a success story in their own right.
Thank you to all parties involved for making the huge sacrifices for the benefit of South African youth! My journey with youth coaching will definitely be continuing for many years to come.
“Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people”
Modern Zulu Mom