Youth unemployment in South Africa can no longer be described as a ticking time bomb. The bomb has gone off and it has not spared the economy, our society, and the dreams of young people. The crisis is bleak with approximately 3.4 million (32.8%) out of 10,2 million young people aged 15-24 years who are not in employment, education or training (NEET), of any kind.  As much as higher education institutions produce an increasing number of graduates each academic year, research paints a bleak picture of graduates armed with skills that are not always relevant to a dynamic labour market. This may further exacerbate the youth unemployment crisis.

Traditionally, society has relied heavily on the public service and big businesses to absorb graduates through learnerships and internships as a means to close skills gaps and offer pathways to employment. Whilst many big businesses have run meaningful graduate, internship, and learnership programs, they may fall short of the ideal with a high attrition rate of young people that are ultimately not gainfully employed. Graduates are increasingly finding themselves in dead-end internships and learnerships often described as revolving doors to nowhere.

Data from the International Labour Organisation (2019) confirms that SMMEs are responsible for up to 60% of the total jobs in South Africa. This points to an interesting trend that reveals that although young people generally aspire to work for big business and look for entry points through graduate programs and the like, they have a higher probability of obtaining a permanent employment opportunity within an SMME.

Observing these trends, Inscape seeks to design a conversational space where a collaborative approach to the skills and youth unemployment challenge in South Africa can be interrogated and engaged with. In this approach, we question if big business, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs), and private and public institutions could work together within an eco-system of stakeholders to equip young people with both the skills and job opportunities for the new economy.

Event Objective

The purpose of this event is to:

  • Fostering a common understanding of the careers of the future in the African context.
  • What is feasible and available to study?
  • What of accessibility - exclusion be it financial, language, technological (data or Wi-Fi etc)?
  • Where is the demand for graduates/skilled youth, today and where will it be tomorrow?
  • Explore the possibilities of a collaborative approach to solving the skills and employment crisis.
  • Consider how SMMEs might partner with big business and education to increase their absorption rate of graduates and ultimately increase the number of real employment opportunities created for young people.
  • Engage with how private and public institutions can create pathways for their graduates within this collaborative eco-system of stakeholders.
  • This event will provide a space for discussion and to look for sustainable solutions, drawing in relevant representatives from small and medium enterprises, big businesses, higher education, industry, Inscape alumni, present staff and students.

The outcome of this event is expected to yield possible collaborative opportunities between big businesses, SMMEs and institutions like Inscape in solving the skills gap in the South African labour market.

Nozipho is a Conversation Strategist moderating global conversations that are designed to have measurable outcomes, her company is committed to building a cohort of empowered conversation strategists that moderate conversations that advance development in the world.  

She has moderated conversations for global bodies including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the International Labour Organisation, the United Nations, the African Union as well as multinationals operating in Africa.  

In her per previous capacity as a prime-time business anchor, Nozipho lifted the African business story, making her an award-winning financial markets broadcaster at CNBC Africa.  

She extends her leadership on various boards including LRMG (Chairperson Designate), Africa Leadership Initiative South Africa (Non-Executive Director), TEDx Gresham Place (Advisory Board) and the BeyGOOD Global Citizen Fellowship (Advisory Council).  

She enjoys the fellowship of the following prestigious institutions: Gordan Institute for Business Science’s Centre for African Management and Markets (Young African leadership Initiative) and is a Tutu fellow. In 2019 she was named as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Young Africans and one of the Top 100 Most Influential South Africans.  

Nozipho is an alumnus of the following academic institutions:  

  • Saïd Business School, Oxford (Tutu Fellow) 
  • University of London (Master’s in international studies) 
  • Stellenbosch Business School Master’s in development finance (cum laude) 
  • University of Pretoria (Hons International Relations) 
  • University of the Witwatersrand (Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing) 

Helen is an entrepreneur, wife, and mother of four children. She values each of these roles and the inherent legacy therein. As a design education leader, she acquired the Inscape Education Group in 2015 and is recognised as the pioneering force behind its growth. She offers a unique blend of business acumen, passion for quality education, making a difference, and leading with integrity. 

Helen serves as; a Director and CEO of Inscape Education Group, a director of Four44 Creative ecosystems, the initiator of the Young Designers Awards, the founding member of Inscape Exchange, and the founding member of Thru the Chair.

As a mark of her dedication to the promotion of design thinking and education, Helen has acted as; a representative in the regional committee of the South African Institute of the Interior Design Professions (IID), a programme evaluator for the Council on Higher Education (CHE), and an executive committee member and secretariat of the Design Education Forum South Africa (DEFSA). She also represents Inscape as a member of the South African Private Higher Education (SAPHE) where she has served as a representative of the Fees Commission Inquiry held in 2016 and the committee chartering a new education code to direct transformation and diversity through BBB-EE practice in education.  

In 2018, Helen was nominated for the EduWeek Africa Institution Leader of the Year. In her capacity as CEO, the Inscape Education Group has also achieved several firsts and accolades: 

  • The first institution in South Africa to offer the Bachelor of Design and specialisation in Ideation Design.
  • The second African and first South African institution profiled by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
  • Two Gold Awards at the Rand Roadshow for the Project81 student exhibition.
  • The Education Award for its contribution towards quality education and student mobility in Fujairah, UAE.
  • Inscape Tribe Magazine was awarded the #dscoopvienna International Award for printing.

Helen believes the key to transforming gender inequality in executive leadership stems from authenticity and intention.  

Sibusiso is a seasoned entrepreneur development expert and business mentor with 15 years of experience in business, and 10 years in enterprise development. She strives to assist small, and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa to build thriving, legacy-driven businesses.  

Using a unique approach to business mentorship, The Transformation Legacy under her leadership has successfully supported and developed a total of 230 entrepreneurs since inception, with 70% being female-led businesses. As a result, more than 80% of the businesses have grown and remain sustainable. 

Equally her experience as an Executive member of Simodisa organisation and Senior Executive of Entrepreneur Development and Branch Management at SAICA Enterprise Development has positioned her as a trusted though-leader and solutionist who understands the pressing issues faced by SMEs.  

The impeccable practical knowledge gained over the years, supported by her master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development from the University of Pretoria, made her a suitable candidate to lead research work for the Embassy of Switzerland. The project focused on investigating what a strengthened Swiss South Africa Business Development Programme should incorporate to address the challenges entrepreneurs are facing in business.  

When she is not steering The Transformation Legacy Ship, she is an Advisory Board Member using technical know-how to develop impactful strategies and implementation plans for Ekasi Entrepreneurs.  

Sibusiso’s prowess and significant contribution to the South African Small Business community was recognized by SANTAM for the Women of the Future Awards and Standard Bank Top Women Awards where The Transformation Legacy was recognized as a top empowered organization.  

Joanna heads up the FNB Young Talent Practice which includes the Graduate Recruitment and Development teams, assessments, employment branding and graduate talent management. She is also a director of the South African Graduate Employer’s Association (SAGEA); a non-profit dedicated to connecting and advancing graduate employment. Her leadership and guidance play a significant role in positively influencing career choices, employability and self-knowledge amongst young talent. 

Joanna is passionate about the role young talent plays in the country and excited about how innovation, its application and advancements impact youth.

Kide by Kira specialises in crafting timeless identities for creative brands.   

She studied a BA Honours in Design at Inscape Education Group. With a love for all things graphic design, from content creation to photography, Kira is a creative at heart. A problem solver with effective time management and communication skills.  

Fun Fact: "My passion lies with simple yet significant design, and I aim to bring this into all facets of my work."