Youth unemployment is one of the biggest challenges facing South Africa. There is an obvious gap between education and employment. This gap is not unique to South Africa, it is a global problem that is systemic. Questions around whether education systems are responsive to industry needs and if schools are adequately and pragmatically preparing learners for the workplace need to be asked.
Career Planet is addressing another area of this systemic problem. For many learners in low-income communities, exposure to career path guidance is limited. Further to this, Career Planet provides accessible information on how to access further study, bursaries and jobs.
The website and mobile content is aligned to the national curriculum’s Life Orientation content. There is information on the site for learners to think through their subject choices as they relate to various career options. The service also links learners to online tutoring and support networks via social networking applications, so that they can improve their results. For many learners the application process to tertiary institutions can be overwhelming, the platform offers deadline reminders and guidance on completing application forms.
There is also a directory of bursaries and scholarships, jobs and other opportunities.
Importantly, there is also an emphasis on apprenticeships and learnerships which have been globally acknowledged as an effective approach in narrowing the gap between education and career. The site is interactive for example it offers services such as CV building and an ‘ask us’ service where learners can ask the team specific questions. Career Planet emphasizes the importance of soft skills, with blog and other content highlighting personal development and confidence in relation to work readiness.
Career Planet offers a link between business and the youth where companies can post listings to meet their staffing needs.
Our initial business model was based on mobile technology units, consisting of 20 online computers and a team of facilitators that travelled to schools, universities, community centres and libraries in rural and urban areas of the Cape Province. The Career Planet website contains a wealth of content designed to help young people to access information about careers, training and job opportunities. The model was popular and successful in informing and motivating learners, teachers and unemployed youth, but had limitations in terms of rollout to other areas of the country. A new operational strategy was developed to ensure sustained growth and penetration to all parts of the country.
Given the high penetration of mobile phones in South Africa, we decided to look at this technology as a way to find solutions to the obstacles facing our youth. The provision of relevant and specific content and ‘opportunity’ information is crucial to the success of our service. We propose to build onto our already substantial database of information to develop a national hub of information, connecting young people to timely and relevant information about opportunities for further education, access to financial and other resources, and the world of work.
We address the following social needs:
- Lack of access to work and training opportunities.
- Shortage of work-readiness skills in the market
- Ongoing support for work seekers and emerging entrepreneurs
Career Planet is working towards a future where all young people in South Africa are:
- Equipped to make informed career and study choices based on their interests, skills and passions.
- Able to become economically active themselves and, in turn, provide work opportunities for others – wherever they are in South Africa.
To become South Africa’s number one online resource for access to opportunities in training, careers and job creation.
To link people with training and career-related opportunities by providing up-to-date career and skills development information with a strong focus on scarce skills and sustainable self-employment.
GOALS & OBJECTIVES
- To become a leading provider of career information and access to skills training and work related opportunities for all South African’s
- To contribute meaningfully towards job creation and poverty alleviation
- To maintain a sustainable technology and business model that can be replicated in other countries
- To promote and create employment opportunities through the use of technology
- To provide online learning tools as a complimentary means of affordable education
WHY IT’S A MODEL OF EXCELLENCE
Career Planet is easily accessible by mobile phone or online computer and is free of charge.
The website is designed specifically to address some of the career guidance gaps that face learners in low income communities. Unemployment in these communities is high and the opportunities for learners are limited.
The programme has been developed to meet the employment and training needs of the most marginalised communities and individuals.
Content focuses on promoting and highlighting:
- The importance of the right subject choices at school
- Critical and scarce skills
- Training institutions, programmes and opportunities
- Entry-level employment
- Artisan training and careers
- Personal development
- Career development
- Lifelong learning
Visitor behaviour is monitored constantly and new content developed dynamically to respond to changing social, educational and industry needs.