In early February UP Academics and Career Services participated in a four-day Erasmus SUCSESS Project workshop focusing on university education and students’ employability. They also competed in a Hackathon.
Youth unemployment is one of South Africa’s major social ills. Annually universities produce a high number of graduates in different disciplines. However, some of these graduates face difficulties securing a job or venturing into entrepreneurship. Studies have shown that these students lack certain competencies to increase their employability, and this results in a high number of unemployed graduates. To tackle this challenge, the Erasmus SUCSESS project which stands for: “Strengthening university-enterprise cooperation in South Africa to support regional development by enhancing lifelong learning skills, social innovations, and inclusivity” held its third workshop at the University of Johannesburg.
The University of Pretoria is one of six institutions, under principal investigator Prof Berendien Lubbe, that have partnered in this three year project aimed at researching ways of reducing youth unemployment and increasing student employability in South Africa.
The University of Pretoria, specifically members of the Department of Historical and Heritage studies, Business Management and Career Services participated in the Erasmus+ SUCSESS project workshop. The conference took place over four days to look at ways that higher education can enhance students’ competencies before the transition to industry and increase employability of these students. At the end of the workshop, a Hackathon was introduced as a method that can be used to tackle the issue of work-life competencies. The method was presented by Hossana Twinomurinzi (University of Johannesburg) and Mika Kylänen (Tampere University of Applied Sciences). In a limited time, four teams (Finland, UP, UJ and UniZulu) had to identify a problem, devise a solution and transform this into an app. The Hackathon was a great technique to create a technological and realistic solution to enhance students’ capabilities and increase their employability.
The University of Pretoria presented an app and website to bridge the gap between the academia, students, career services and industry. With the help of a software developer Angelic Danielle from UJ, the UP team’s project won the Hackathon. This app will increase student self-awareness, collaboration and close the information gap between the identified stakeholders. The linked website will showcase student’s capabilities and give industry the opportunity to select and employ students from this pool. The prize includes Erasmus funding to develop the app. Overall, it was a very innovative experience, one step closer to reducing youth unemployment and increasing student’s competencies. The fourth Erasmus+ SUCSESS workshop will take place in Finland.