Article by Thandeka Phiri: MISA’s National Training and HR Manager
Youth are thriving in sports, arts, culture and other areas. Despite the youth unemployment that plagues the country, young workers today have greater access to education and to a greater variety of jobs which were not available in the past. However, there is still much that can be done to improve the lives of these young ones and especially the lives of young workers.
On the other hand, many youths are impacted by the high rates of unemployment. More often than not, the go to solution which is presented as a means to combat unemployment, is usually entrepreneurship. With the thought, that with increases in young entrepreneurs, the more jobs they can create and thus reduce the unemployment rates.
On the face of it, these are good initiatives. This though does not address the (1) youth who do not have an entrepreneurial mind set, nor (2) the youth who are eligible to be employed by the growing number of entrepreneurs with an intention of helping them to be able to secure and retain the jobs that are being crested.
Apart from developing entrepreneurs, we also need to enable other youth to be employable. Employability stretches beyond one having the correct set of qualifications, skills and/or experience, it also requires one to have the correct mind set and soft skills to succeed within the workplace.
Upon achieving their educational qualifications or on entering the workplace, youth are required to make an automatic shift from being learners to workers. This is often without any support or guidance, and as a result, many youth entering the workplace struggle to navigate through these hurdles required by them to succeed.
“Soft skills” is a term used by employers to describe the personality traits and the interpersonal skills required of employees to succeed in almost any job.
Most of our daily interactions require some sort of soft skills, thus developing these will help you to form good impressions and go further in your work life. For example, candidates with a strong work ethic will have an advantage over those who only do what is required of them.
Soft skills tend to come from life experience and are not always inherent. They are something you can learn.
Some of the crucial soft skills that can be enhanced, when combined with experience and knowledge, can propel their career to the desired heights. These include:
We cannot always plan for everything. Yet, being able to adapt to new developments and still achieve your goal is an important skill to have in the workplace. The world is changing and the change is occurring at a fast pace. If you are to succeed, you need to exhibit the ability to adapt to emerging situations. You cannot be rigid in handling tasks. Employees are required to think off their feet and execute given tasks with great adaptability.
This includes verbal and written communication, and listening. It is about being clear, concise and focused; being able to tailor your message for the audience and listening to the views of others. Communication is not just what you say; it is also how you present yourself. Employers will assess your written, verbal and non-verbal communication skills during applications and interviews; therefore, it is vital to demonstrate good communication skills.
Teamwork is one of the fundamental skills employers look for. You will need to prove that you are a team player but also have the ability to manage and delegate to others and take on responsibility. This is about building positive working relationships that help everyone to achieve goals and business objectives. One needs to demonstrate the ability to collaborate, influence and compromise.
Problem solving is all about using logic, as well as imagination, to make sense of a situation and come up with an intelligent solution. In fact, the best problem solvers actively anticipate potential future problems and act to prevent them or to mitigate their effects. You need to display an ability to take a logical and analytical approach to solving problems and issues. Analytical skills enable you to work with different kinds of information, see patterns and trends and draw meaningful conclusions. It is also good to show that you can approach problems from different angles.
This is about keeping calm in a crisis and not becoming too overwhelmed or stressed. One needs to realise that no job will be entirely free of stress and, depending on the career you have chosen, stressful situations could be a regular occurrence of working life. Interviewers want to see that you will be able to handle the pressure of work, that you are aware of what you find stressful and that you are able to remain productive and professional in challenging situations.
Resilience is the ability to face setbacks, unforeseen events, obstacles and failures without allowing them to dominate, derail or destroy your life. It is not about being unaffected by stress or pressure, but about recognising when you are affected by it and having coping strategies to manage it. Your levels of resilience can be increased and improved; resilience is not a static quality.
Employers want people to have a bit of a get-up-and-go ability. Working life presents many challenges and you need to show employers that you are the kind of person who will find a way through, even when the going gets tough and still be able to have a passion for your job.
This is about showing that you can prioritise, work efficiently and productively and manage your time well. One may be faced with competing, equally pressing priorities and they often cannot progress their own tasks until others have done theirs. They may also need to juggle several different projects simultaneously and accommodate additional work that arises unexpectedly. Therefore, you will need to organise your workload, prioritise your time and know how much you can realistically do in a day – and then do it!
With MISA by their side, Young Workers are not alone.
MISA acknowledges the importance of soft skills and have a variety of initiatives, which are geared towards helping employees to succeed, namely:
MISA Soft Skills Training
MISA funds the training for its members who are employed at RMI establishment for the following interventions:
Lunch and Learn Series:
This series is intended to empower MISA members to navigate the changing world of work, acquire knowledge and skills (especially soft skills) to enable them to be Future-Fit and to operate independently and successfully. Taking into account workplace demands and the busy schedules of all our members, this series is delivered in impactful, 30 minute virtual sessions. These can be organised for a group of employees or specifically for a dealership based on their operational requirements. This series has the following topics:
If you are a registered MISA Member and are interested in any of these training interventions, please contact the MISA Training Department at Training@ms.org.za
Let us work together to promote employable youth as a step towards addressing youth unemployment.