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Internships the key to breaking youth unemployment

Internships the key to breaking youth unemployment

IDU internships lead to full-time ICT employment

It’s an evergreen problem: graduates have the qualifications but not the experience to find jobs. Back in 2012, there were more than 600,000 graduates unable to find jobs and not being able to use the skills they have learnt, according to Adcorp’s December Employment Index. Then, add into the mix that IT skills are in short supply, and are essential to fast-track South Africa to a knowledge economy. Ironic, isn’t it? 

Backdrop this against StatsSA figures for the first quarter of this year, which show that South African youth experienced an unemployment rate of 37.7%, far higher than the total average of 26.7%.

How do you resolve this catch-22?

South Africa has no shortage of talent, but this needs to be converted to reliable, practical skills. Partnerships with the private sector are increasingly important to give graduates the essential work experience and practical on-the-job knowledge needed to land their first job. This is where internships add real value as they provide the opportunity for graduates to gain practical experience in their field of study, as well as improving their chances of obtaining full-time employment. 

In addition to upskilling and training the graduates in their relevant field, internships teach a range of other skills essential to being effective in the working world: from company etiquette, to time management, and team-based working. All the things not covered in text books and which generally first-time employees muddle through.

For companies, internships are also a great way to employ junior developers. For instance, at Westlake-based IDU, we currently have several interns from The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), recruited via the Centre for Community Engagement and Work Integrated Learning (CCEWIL). On arrival at the four-month internship, the interns are paired with a developer and coach to support them and guide them as they gain experience in IT business analysis and software development through involvement in real projects.

Nadir Isaacs, an intern at IDU, says: “Since joining IDU, I have gained the comprehensive knowledge of business and systems processes within an IT-based environment. This industry exposure has helped my analytics skills and business processes. Doing analytics is not about understanding concepts from a book, rather it is about understanding consumer behavior, situations and how to run a business system.

“At IDU, I have been given an opportunity to work on real projects and to meet specific deadlines. We are taught to use our creativity and initiative when completing a project. It helps to be goal-orientated in this environment and I have received loads of encouragement and support from the development team mentoring us.

“My internship has really benefited me and exposed me to real working environments and culture, such as the importance of attitude and communication. I have also been exposed to the latest technology which is pretty cool.”

Over the past twelve years, almost all interns at IDU have gone on to join the company on a full-time basis. Nadir has been offered a permanent position at IDU from December 2016 and we are confident he will be a valuable member of the team going forward.


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