Amid a pressing drive to modernise, South Africa’s construction and infrastructure development industry is experiencing substantial transformation, fuelling growth on a significant scale.
This, in turn, is ushering in a wave of employment opportunities and fostering new career paths for the country’s youth.
Notably, South Africa is facing an ongoing youth employment crisis, as Statistics South Africa reveals that nearly half of all youth between 15 and 34 years are not in education, employment, or training.
Against this backdrop, however, the construction and infrastructure industry is offering an essential glimmer of hope as its expansion holds enormous labour-absorbing potential. As the South Africa Construction Industry 2023 Report suggests, the sector is expected to experience an annual compound growth rate of 5.8% between 2023 and 2027, while construction output is set to reach just over R230 billion this year.
“The construction and infrastructure sectors will be instrumental in achieving the country’s objectives for growth and employment. The sector’s anticipated growth not only addresses the immediate need for jobs but also presents an opportunity for young people to develop highly sought-after skills, potentially altering their career trajectories and futures,” says Olebogeng Manhe, Chairman of the Gap Infrastructure Corporation (GIC).
“So, as the demand for skilled workers in this sector increases, it’s important for young people to consider careers in this industry, as it offers many opportunities for personal and professional growth. Some potential, high-earning career paths include civil engineering, architecture, construction management, business administration, and project management – positions which will always be in high demand.”
Making strides through the LearnMe and GIC partnership
Assisting youth to develop in-demand skills for thriving career journeys, GIC has forged a partnership with LearnMe, a learnerships consulting provider which offers fully accredited training with the SETA. LearnMe specialises in the recruitment and training of abled people, as well as providing learnerships and skills programmes for people with disabilities.
As the GIC’s trusted implementation partner, LearnMe is rolling out a tailored GIC learnership programme aligned with its skills development and B-BBEE strategies. In this way, GIC aims to provide learners from black communities with practical and comprehensive learning opportunities, assisting them to develop future-ready skills and ensuring that they are able to enter the job market with confidence.
Several learners have already been enrolled to complete their NQF Level 3 Business Administration qualification through the GIC programme for a period of 12 months, each receiving a monthly stipend sponsored by the GIC.
He further notes that several companies have partnered with programmes like the National Youth Service to provide opportunities for young people to gain work experience and develop their skills through training, mentoring, and community service projects.
“Many companies recognise this challenge as an opportunity to invest in programmes that attract and develop young talent. These initiatives focus on providing training and mentoring opportunities and promoting diversity and inclusion in the workforce. By empowering young people with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed, we can build a more vibrant industry for generations to come,” says Manhe.
“This approach to tackling unemployment and promoting industry growth is a testament to the forward-thinking nature of this sector. It’s a model that other industries could learn from as South Africa continues to grapple with the challenges of high unemployment and the need for sustained economic growth.”
Looking ahead, young people will play a crucial role in shaping the construction and infrastructure industry. By providing opportunities for learning, growth, and development, construction and infrastructure companies can play a meaningful role in building a workforce equipped to meet future challenges.
“At GIC, we recognise that the youth are vital to building a brighter future for our communities. Through our focus on innovation, we are dedicated to creating employment prospects for youth, and helping them to thrive in this industry as a leading infrastructure developer,” concludes Manhe.