South Africa’s high unemployment rate remains a constant concern across government, industry and society at large. With recent figures citing a staggering 25.02% people being unemployed, the issue is clearly one of our country’s greatest challenges. While many may lay the blame on the lack of tertiary education available to the masses, we believe that the value of practical skills and skills development cannot be underestimated.
Yes, education and the opportunity to further one’s education are vital to a productive and sustainable life. But a piece of paper proving a degree or diploma only translates successfully when that individual is able to practically implement and apply the learnings. And it is this practical ability that leads to employment opportunities.
We believe the world of media, specifically the local film and television industry, is perfectly suited to deliver. We live in a time where the global demand for filmed content is constantly increasing, spurred on by the growth of social media and digital. This brings with it the ripple effect of the potential for growth amongst content generators able to produce visually appealing, dynamic and relevant content, which in turn can lead to job creation. By its very nature, our industry is already highly labour intensive. Together, this makes it able to contribute significantly towards employment opportunities.
Regarded by many as key to the economic and future growth of South Africa, skills development is considered to be as vital when it comes to solving South Africa’s unemployment as tertiary education, if not more so. Skills development is about identifying talent and truly working with the individuals concerned to bring their talent to the fore by providing practical skills, mentoring and a guided approach within the work environment. And through this, enabling individuals to take their rightful place across business, industry and within their own lives.
The film and television industry is also not without its challenges, making it well matched to the benefits of skills development programmes. Locally, the Western Cape has lost large amounts of talent to Gauteng due to the latter’s giant share of production work and its supporting infrastructure. In addition, young producers, while creatively skilled, have minimal knowledge of how to commercialise their productions or fulfil broadcasters’ mandates.
This results in producers with well-developed projects being unable to sell them. Add to that limited local opportunities for hands-on exposure to real-world television production processes and operations, coupled with little or no knowledge of the business of television, and the result is an ever dwindling pool of experienced personnel together with creatively capable people achieving little financial success.
And all of this is further influenced by the seasonality of our industry placing additional limitations on opportunities for growth and learning.
While industry players have both a duty and a role to play in overcoming these challenges, it also makes good business sense. There are innumerable advantages to skills development for both industry and the employees being developed. We receive immense return on our investment through the development of higher skilled staff working at increased levels of productivity, motivation and confidence. This in turn breeds ambition, success and ultimately job satisfaction.
Okuhle have a number of skills development programmes in place and we are constantly evolving our skills development offering. In addition we will soon be launching a skills incubator aimed at developing relevant industry talents, while simultaneously contributing to enterprise development through the teaching and transfer of business skills.
Education and training is key to the viability, growth and sustainability of our industry. We are committed to playing an active role, delivering a positive impact not only within our industry but across South Africa as a whole.”
Vuyokazi Matu is a founding member and head of HR at Okuhle Media
IMAGE: Okuhle Media production for SABC2, Hectic 9
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