Expanding construction sector good for youth employment

A pressing drive to modernise and transform South Africa’s construction and infrastructure development industry is fuelling significant growth and ushering in a wave of employment opportunities that foster new career paths for the country’s youth.

South Africa faces an ongoing youth employment crisis and against this backdrop the construction and infrastructure industry are offering an essential glimmer of hope as its expansion holds enormous labour-absorbing potential.

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The South Africa Construction Industry 2023 Report suggests that 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).

Demand for skilled workers increasing

“As the demand for skilled workers in this sector increases, it is 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.”

GIC forged a partnership with LearnMe, a learnerships consulting provider which offers fully accredited training with the SETA to help young people develop in-demand skills to make their careers thrive.

LearnMe is rolling out a tailored GIC learnership programme aligned with its skills development and B-BBEE strategies to provide practical and comprehensive learning opportunities for learners from black communities and help them to develop future-ready skills and ensure that they can enter the job market with confidence.

Several students 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.

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Opportunities to gain work experience in construction sector

Manhe says several companies 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.”

Manhe says this approach to tackle unemployment and promote industry growth is a testament to the forward-thinking nature of the sector and a model that other industries could learn from.

“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.”

GIC recognises that the youth are vital to build a brighter future for communities. “Through our focus on innovation, we are dedicated to create employment prospects for youth and help them to thrive in this industry as a leading infrastructure developer,” he says.

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