THE Economist’s recent Pocket World in Figures report confirms that South Africa has the highest youth unemployment rate than any other country in the world.
That is where the Banking Sector Education and Training Authority (Bankseta) Board chairperson, Nosipho Makhanya, steps up to the plate.
She believes that the high youth unemployment rate is troublesome as it reflects the large number of vulnerable youth who struggle to find meaningful participation in the economy.
At just 30, Makhanya is the youngest person to hold a position on the Bankseta board and her passion for the UN’s fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of quality education shines through what she does.
Here is how the Bankseta in particular is working to undo those unemployment figures by providing better educational and entrepreneurial opportunities alike.
She is adamant that the youth should always be at the heart of South Africa’s economic agenda. Makhanya was taught to value education – whether formal or informal – from an early age, seeing it not just as a means of escaping poverty and attaining financial security, but also for its greater purpose of benefiting humankind, in changing the world we live in.
This ties in with her belief that education is the “gateway SDG” through which all others can be achieved because it unlocks latent potential resulting in creative problem-solving that brings about societal change. That is why Makhanya uses her education to enhance the lives of those around her.
In addition to being a qualified chartered accountant and a chartered financial analyst, she also has a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
She said her chartered accounting skills built a strong backbone that led her to leave the typical corporate world in 2014 for greater flexibility to help shape the country’s development through her Ngwenyama Yezulu financial consulting and advisory firm.
Makhanya credited her profession for providing her with not just a technical understanding of finances and systematic problem-solving thinking, but also a basis of good governance and ethical behaviour.
Quality education at every stage
That, in particular, is why she was passionate about the need for quality education at every stage.
When she speaks of quality education, Makhanya is referring to an education system that produces people who can contribute to the socio-economic prosperity of the country and the world at large.
She feels that a quality-focused education model should be rolled out to include all academic programmes of higher learning, co-ordinated through a national skill planning mechanism.
Which is why Makhanya is so passionate about the work Bankseta does in this space. As one of South Africa’s best-performing Sector Education and Training Authorities (Setas), promoting skills development and transformation through youth develThe model should include both an academic track, as well as practical industry experience, to be facilitated through commitment from the private, public and social sectors, who will be the providers of the vocational workplace training programmes.opment programmes, workplace learning and professional development programmes, she said its team lived by values of respect, professionalism, integrity and stakeholder focus, as well as team work, embracing diversity and innovation.
This is particularly important. Makhanya pointed out that we are already at the tail end of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and some believe we have already entered the Fifth Industrial Revolution, so it is time to latch on to the changing environment before we are left behind.
It is a tough enough challenge for those of us who have benefitted from quality education, but for the average disadvantaged student looking to start a career, it is even tougher.
Those from rural areas in particular have limited knowledge about the financial and alternative banking sector, not to mention how to adapt to changing technologies. Fulfilling their academic requirement alone is a challenge as they struggle to access the training required, with most financial hubs based in urban metropolitan areas.
There is also misalignment between what institutions of higher learning teach and the practical skills required by the market. That is why Bankseta has embarked on extensive research and benchmarking, and works closely with employers and institutions of higher learning to minimise this skills mismatch, effectively co-ordinating employers’ skills demands with the supply of skills produced by educational institutions.
To this end, “Bankseta has taken the bull by its horns in unleashing the capabilities of the country’s gems, therefore fulfilling its strategic goal of youth development.” said Makhanya.
Bankseta has a long-standing working relationship with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), and its various youth education projects.
For example, through SAICA’s Accounting Technician South Africa designation, Bankseta is involved in workplace programmes that help minimise the misalignment, as employers directly shape the skills development process and instil discipline, by opening up their workplaces for internships and training programmes for disadvantaged students in the technical and vocational training (TVET) field.
In addition to helping the youth in the TVET space, BANKSETA and SAICA have also worked together to bring quality education to disadvantaged students through the Thuthuka Education Upliftment Fund’s transformation initiative.
Most recently, this partnership culminated in the SAICA accreditation of the University of Zululand. This project, which began seven years ago, means that as of this year any student with a UNIZULU BCom (Accounting Science) undergraduate degree should be eligible to study for the postgraduate degree (known as CTA or equivalent) without having to complete a bridging course or programme at a university that offers such SAICA-accredited programmes, provided that they meet the entry requirements of that university.
Informal educational opportunities
Makhanya recognises that it is difficult to sacrifice time for social causes when working in a capitalist system, but she is living proof of the positive social contribution that CAs are making to the nation by doing their bit to make the world a better place.
“This is where active citizenry becomes important. We all need to play a part in resolving the problems that plague society. We can’t abdicate this role to the government, we need to be patriotic in our outlook, and contribute our time and resources to making South Africa a better country for all,” she said.
“We must continuously assess our own efforts in making this world a better place for all. We are only in a democratic society because previous generations stepped up and challenged the status quo. Those generations are accredited with bringing down the walls built by racial segregation policies and ushering us into a democracy. What will our generation be known for? Could we be the generation that brings about equitable economic emancipation for all?,” Makhanya asked.
With a strong focus on enhancing the quality of education on offer, we may well be that generation.
Issued by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants