04 Aug
Jennifer Higgs Careerlinx Director

Careerlinx, an innovative non-profit organization is appealing to both individuals and companies to take a stand and make a difference when it comes to spiraling unemployment amongst KwaZulu-Natal’s youth – even though many may feel powerless to make a difference.

“We are deeply concerned about the rising unemployment rate amongst South Africa’s youth. Our so-called “born free” generation is caught in the shackles of poverty, poor health, crime and gang activities. The reality is that many of them will become adults who have never worked and have lost hope. This is creating an ever growing crisis in an already volatile political climate in South Africa,” says Engelbrecht.

At present, according to Stats SA, the national unemployment level stands at 26.4 percent percent. The expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who have stopped looking for work went up to 36.3 percent from 33.8 percent. An estimated 63 percent of South Africa’s young people are jobless.

Sadly, these depressing statistics do not necessarily galvanize either businesses or individuals to action. Instead, they have the opposite effect, leaving them feeling powerless to intervene in a crisis that seems to be spiraling out of control.

“Companies, in an extremely difficult economy with rising inflation and costs, are faced with retrenching rather than hiring staff. Those that are still able to employ entry level workers find themselves faced with a terrifying tide of desperate people, most of whom are unskilled and ignorant of how to operate within the working environment in the first place,” she explains.

Careerlinx was birthed to bridge the gap between South Africa’s unemployed youth and companies wishing to employ entry level people.

The organization does not turn away the so called “unemployable” as they are one of the groups that need help the most. Instead, Careerlinx works as both an employment facilitator and a provider of work readiness training.

Jennifer Higgs, one of Careerlinx board members believes that both the public and private sector do not realize that there is a massive gap between the ability to operate within a work environment and skills development. Without work readiness training, skills development is not possible, she says.

A lack of workplace readiness is often the biggest challenge faced by first-time entrants into the workplace. A lack of exposure and limited knowledge of the business environment as well as underdeveloped interpersonal or soft skills which is so prevalent amongst young job seekers from disadvantaged backgrounds often makes candidates seem unemployable.

In addition, large numbers of the unemployed youth lack the basic English literacy and maths skills disqualifying them from even the most basic jobs.

“We are working in a seemingly hopeless space. But we are not prepared to sit on the sidelines and write people off because they aren’t easy to help. In spite of overwhelming operational and funding challenges, we have managed to connect an increased number of unemployed candidates from 22 KwaZulu-Natal communities with both employers and earning   opportunities,” points out Lungile Shandu,Careerlinx board member.

Careerlinx has to date registered over 3508 unemployed on its database, submitted 970 CVs to prospective potential employers and found 523 candidates job or earning opportunities.

To develop an employable entry level young candidate and to link him or her to a job or earning opportunity, costs around R2000 per person.

Rachel Engelbrecht, founder and Executive Director of Careerlinx, says that Careerlinx is now ready to ramp up its activities in KwaZulu-Natal but faces significant operation costs, including the need to bring on additional staff.

This not only covers providing employment facilitation services and assisting in developing basic English, Maths numeracy and computer skills but also offering intensive work preparation and job readiness courses and providing counseling support and life skills coaching.

“While most South Africans think they have neither the time nor the resources to help reduce our endemic unemployment, we believe that we can pool resources via very small donations to make a difference,” Engelbrecht says of the Careerlinx R100 for 100 days campaign,” she says.

Careerlinx is appealing to individuals to donate R100 once off and then encourage their friends, family and colleagues to do the same. She also wants to donors to post selfies with R100 notes on the Careerlinx Facebook page.

She is also appealing to companies to donate towards the campaign and challenge other companies in either their neighbourhoods or sectors to match or better their investments in helping stem unemployment amongst KZN youth.

For further information, please contact Rachel Engelbrecht mobile 0845561329 email: rachel@careerlinx.co.za

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