As the world celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week (13 to 19 November), Nelson Mandela Bay parents were given a sobering glimpse into the world of work their children will face – and why it’s important to help develop an entrepreneurial mindset in the youth.
South Africa’s official unemployment rate stands at more than 27%, the highest it has been since 2003, with more than six million job-seekers unable to find work, and more than half of them aged between 15 to 24.
“The world of work and business is changing … The inability of our school system to empower our kids for these changes is of concern. There is a disparity between what we teach our kids and the world of work,” said Danie Jacobs, former director of the University of the Free State Business School and founder and CEO of the national franchise Young Entrepreneurs.
He was one of three panellists discussing “why entrepreneurial skills are important for Generation Z / what to expect from now until 2030”, at a function attended by about 100 parents at Port Elizabeth’s Cherry Place this week (November 15).
The other panellists included Tsepang Setipa, founding partner and CEO at Consult Group International and Prof Chris Adendorff, who runs several businesses in South Africa and abroad, and lectures entrepreneurship and future studies at Nelson Mandela University Business School.
“Being an entrepreneur is becoming even more important as the job world changes,” said Adendorff. “Towards 2030, 60% of today’s jobs won’t exist … The world is moving towards the internet of things and artificial intelligence. We need to move with it or get left behind.”
Setipa said only five per cent of South Africans were entrepreneurs. “South Africa not only needs more entrepreneurs; it needs better entrepreneurs. People have become convenient entrepreneurs: ‘I’m unemployed, I’m retrenched. Okay, I’ll sell something.’ We need a better [entrepreneurial] mindset to grow the number of entrepreneurs.”
He said entrepreneurship should not be an “after-thought” at schools. “It needs to be entrenched and developed from the foundational level all the way up. Developing entrepreneurship requires more than just selling cupcakes at a school market day once a year.”
Jacobs started the national franchise Young Entrepreneurs, which was introduced in Port Elizabeth this year, to prepare children right from Grade 1 upwards to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, to better prepare them for a world of work in which they may need to create their own jobs.
“The old premise of: get good marks at school, get a degree, get a job is no longer absolute. I have had BCom Honours students sitting in my office, who are not getting work.
“The post-matric youth sit in entrepreneurial development incubators out of necessity [they don’t have jobs], not choice. But we need to start them young, with repetitive experiential exposure to entrepreneurial businesses … You can’t learn to be an entrepreneur by reading a textbook and writing a test.
“There is no entrepreneurial culture in South Africa. It is not promoted as a career, but it should be. We need to think out of the box and capacitate and empower our children for the future.”
Adendorff said: “I believe we need a mind shift. Globally, it’s not about entrepreneurship, it’s about multi-preneurship, where entrepreneurs have more than one business. If you teach your kids entrepreneurship, they believe in it, and they believe in themselves, because kids have a positive mindset … So, you create positivity [about entrepreneurship] in kids, motivate them and gear them towards it.”
The Young Entrepreneurs franchise was introduced in port Elizabeth this year by franchise owner Ansulene Prinsloo, a qualified accountant and former academic. She became interested in developing future entrepreneurs when her son, Berno Potgieter, completed his chemical engineering degree and could not find work after graduation. “It was devastating for all of us – the emotional rollercoaster for a young graduate who worked hard for many years and then could not find a job was terrible.” Potgieter then took the risk of starting his own business.
“As a mom, I initially hated it. I wanted him to get a job, but saw the light very quickly.”
Her son’s technology start-up company and app business led to national success – and Prinsloo’s interest in teaching entrepreneurship grew. “I have another child [still in primary school], but I want to start preparing him now already to be successful in life.”
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