Beyond the pandemic: Capabilities that will help the youth thrive in the new normal

Beyond the pandemic: Capabilities that will help the youth thrive in the new normal

If you, like nearly all young people, have had your education and personal life disrupted by COVID-19, it might seem hard to look beyond the lockdown, the fear of the virus, and the economic troubles to dream of a brighter future.

The coronavirus, after all, arrived at a time when inequality, joblessness and poverty were already high in South Africa. But don’t be despondent – it’s within your power to work on personal mastery and on skills that will equip you for tomorrow’s high-tech workplace.

A good place to start is by thinking about some of the key qualities and skills of tomorrow’s leaders. Some examples include:

Lifelong learning

Even before the pandemic, automation and digital technologies were changing how organisations operate. But Covid-19 has accelerated the speed at which companies are evolving. Old skills are falling by the wayside and new skills and jobs are coming into existence.

According to the World Economic Forum, in just five years, 35 percent of the skills deemed essential today will change. There’s only one way to remain relevant in this reality: commit to a lifetime of learning. The good news is that improving your skills has never been easier.

You don’t necessarily need to study for years or take big loans to build the qualifications needed for the roles of the future. Instead, you need to be committed to growing and adding skills all the time, using resources such as free and open online courses (MOOCs).

Creativity & critical thinking

The coronavirus has made many existing human problems worse and added new ones into the mix. We’ll need creativity and innovation to dream up new products and ways of working to navigate to a brighter future. Getting in touch with your creativity will help you thrive in the future workplace.

And we need to think critically about our governments, the structure of our society, the information that floods us via social media, and the businesses we deal with every day. When you analyse the world through this lens you can be a change agent, and start thinking about how you can address the needs you see in your community or market.


In a world where human capability is augmented by machines and where social distancing and home working might continue for the foreseeable future, leadership is key. People who can lead and inspire diverse and virtual teams spanning home-based workers, office workers, gig economy workers and inculcate a culture of collaboration will be in great demand.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to be aware of, express, and control our emotions, and to be aware of others’ emotions. At a time when people might feel uncertain about their jobs and the future of the business, it is key to connect on an emotional level. Individuals with strong EQ will be sought by organisations of all sizes and in all industries.


The pandemic has taught us not to get too comfortable because change happens. If things don’t work out, you need the resilience to reinvent yourself or pivot into a new career, for example.

Community-based entrepreneurship

It’s clear that government and big business cannot meet the need for jobs in our country on their own. That’s why we believe the future lies in the community and finding ways to make life better for the people you share your immediate world with.

While you look for a job, you could start a business. Assess the needs of your community, nothing is too small or too big. Start vegetable gardens for sustainability, run a garden service, set up a laundry service – there are many opportunities to start a business that bring in revenue while you seek a job and in the end, you may find you no longer need a job because you are creating jobs for others.


Whichever career path you follow, understanding technology will be critical to your future. Digital literacy is as essential as literacy and numeracy.

It’s a journey, not a destination.

Peter Senge says: “People with a high level of personal mastery live in a continual learning mode. They never ‘arrive’.” These are the words every young person should live by in a world of accelerated change. Choose your vision, work towards it, and be ready for reality to change around you in ways that can be both scary and exciting.

By Mathulwane Mpshe, Director at ReimagineSA

Time to accelerate women into top posts in SA organisations

Time to accelerate women into top posts in SA organisations

An organisations stakeholders, such as shareholders, customers, employees, and the community, all benefit when it focuses on the deliberate advancement of women. 
Empirical evidence shows that workplaces with a diverse workforce, including women at all levels of the hierarchy, are more progressive and successful.

 That’s why organisations that are positioning for success should be aiming to recruit and retain the best female talent; developing, mentoring and coaching women to take up positions at every level and in every discipline of the business. 

The importance of empowering women is also acknowledged in the framework of the law, through legislation such as the Employment Equity Act.

The Act refers to affirmative action measures to be put in place to ensure the advancement of women in the workplace. It classifies South African women as a designated group, meaning people who were previously disadvantaged as a result of the country’s history. The goal is to ensure equal opportunities for all designated groups.

Women empowerment is not about equality, but about equitability. Equality assumes all have an equal start and are able to compete on an equal footing. Equitability, however, acknowledges that the past was inequitable, thus requires a deliberate effort to fast-track the development and progress of women in the workplace.

Empowerment of women in the workplace includes creating a conducive workplace where:

• Women are treated with dignity and respect;
• Women are safe and free from any form of harassment;
• There is awareness of the challenges women face;
• Women are provided with facilities for nursing babies and nursery schools where possible;
• Women have access to opportunities to learn, develop and grow;
• Women are promoted to decision-making roles that affect the bottom line of the company;
• Women are allowed to make mistakes and failure is regarded as an opportunity to learn;
• Women’s earnings are determined by equal-pay-for-equal-job principle and not by their sex;
• Women’s performance is based on their contribution, competence and capability, not on their sex.

There is not much here with which the average HR director or CEO would disagree. Yet the recently released Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) report for 2018 found that top and senior management posts in South Africa remain male dominated.

 Three quarters of top management are men, as are two thirds of senior managers. Organisations could and should do better.
It is time for business leaders in South Africa to go beyond paying lip service to empowering women, and take tangible steps to bring more women into the boardroom. It is imperative that we unleash the power of our female talent if we are to catalyse sustainable economic growth that makes our country more prosperous, fair and equal.

Mathulwane Mpshe is a ReimagineSA board member.

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