Exxaro Powering South African Youths By Vanisha Balgobind, Executive Head of Human Resources.
Following the release of our 2019 interim results, Exxaro is more motivated than ever to continue our upward trend to power possibility, especially when it comes to youth development. Uplifting the knowledge and capabilities of the youth in the communities, operates as a core priority in Exxaro’s positioning. One such initiative, in which we take great pride in is the YDx (Youth Exponential Development) programme, which is developed and managed by SADICO. Through our partnership with SADICO, we are committed to equipping communities with the necessary skills to adapt to the changing environment - spurred on by new technologies and the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Encouraging skills development in South African Youths
In current years, South Africa has seen the poverty level increase at an alarming rate. Based on the recently released 2019 Q3 labour statistics by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), the burden of unemployment is concentrated amongst the youth - those aged between 15 and 24 years with an unemployment rate at 58.2%. Hence, empowering youth becomes vital to bridge the skills gap.
Realising our social responsibility, Exxaro doubled its community investments and volunteerism value distribution to R62 million in the first half of 2019 as compared to R30 million in the first half of 2018.
Educating youth in the areas of technology and innovation is especially important during the current economic climate as it has positive benefits for the South Africa’s society, as well as the economy.
As part of the YDx programme, Exxaro has committed R40 million over a period of 12 to 18 months, to upskilling 400 South African youths in the communities we operate in. Those selected to partake in the initiative are from underprivileged backgrounds who have shown an interest in technology and innovation, while possessing the drive to start their own business.
Apart from training curious young minds in digital technology and 4th Industrial Revolution concepts, it also organises the youth into technology cooperatives where they will be eligible to receive a monthly stipend.
The training commenced in May 2019 with 34 youths receiving ‘train the trainer’ instruction. This instruction focused on skills such as digital technology (telecommunications, IT, broadcasting and Internet) and 4th Industrial Revolution concepts such as internet of things, artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, nanotechnology, autonomous vehicles, cryptocurrency and cybersecurity. Through attaining these valuable skills, the youths were able to start the process of training an additional 366 local youths in digital skills. These skills include website design and development, mobile app development, cellphone repairs, digital migration, laptop, PC repairs and solar energy. In doing so, a total of 400 youths were empowered, thanks to the YDx programme.
The role of HR in youth development
It’s important that businesses adopt purpose-driven efforts to engage with and develop the youth directly, thereby benefiting society. More time and effort is required to intensify and accelerate youth empowerment throughout the country, and HR professionals need to drive these programmes. Promoting the lifelong acquisition of knowledge, skills and competencies necessary for the performance of chosen roles that contribute economically and socially to the self and others, needs to be at the heart of all youth development planning and training.
We believe in creating opportunities to develop exceptional young people. As a company geared for change, Exxaro understands the role we play within the national space to assist in minimising youth unemployment. Skills development and education are vital to the digital future of our continent, and we take pride in our alignment.
Exxaro will therefore, continue to strive for youth development as a means of uplifting communities, and empower those with skills for the workforce of the future. We maintain successful partnerships with our stakeholders, who help us contribute meaningfully to South Africa’s socio-economic development, and to the success and growth of Exxaro.