There can be little doubt that difficult economic conditions and the legacies of the past have created a range of obstacles for South Africa’s youth to overcome. But despite the many challenges it faces, the country has a vibrant, fast-growing digital economy that offers pathways to prosperity for young builders and entrepreneurs that develop the right expertise and skillset.
Independent economic research commissioned by Facebook indicates that South Africa has a digital workforce of around 3.2 million jobs, accounting for approximately 31% of the current national workforce. The research indicates that the digital economy will make an annual contribution to the economy of nearly R5.5 billion this year.
This base will grow rapidly over the next decade, with the total value associated with core and secondary digital skills jobs expected to reach around R12.5 billion by 2029. Included in this description are jobs such as computer programming, digital marketing and UX design. In 2029, there will be around 6.4 million digital jobs, accounting for some 53% of all jobs in the economy.
This offers hope to youth, many of whom are concerned about their future employment prospects.
In an independent survey of over 500 18-25-year-old South Africans commissioned by Facebook, we found that 62% of respondents feel extremely negative about current employment opportunities. Some 88% believe digital skills are important for securing jobs and 77% of the respondents believe social media platforms are very important in helping to launch and grow a business.
At Facebook, we believe strongly in the development of young entrepreneurs and small businesses as a means for economic growth. But we also recognise the importance of investing in growing the country’s young, digital skills base and in empowering entrepreneurs with digital tools to unlock the potential of the digital economy.
This is why we are investing in digital training and skills development, as well as in tools for young entrepreneurs. Some examples are:
- Digital Training Hub: Offers free online courses that can help participants take the next step. With expert tips from the Facebook team, to get the skills need to maximise business and user potential.
- Facebook blueprint Online training in digital marketing to help users to build their business or marketing career.
- Boost your business workshops in partnership with Digify Africa: We provide businesses with the most up-to-date tools, insights, and best practices for achieving success on Facebook and Instagram.
- SheMeansBusiness: Training communities and the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders to better understand and utilise the power of digital tools for economic growth.
Telling brand stories
The real power of digital and mobile tools lies in the way that they give young entrepreneurs the ability to tell their stories and build communities without making huge investments in creative executions, technology or agencies. On our social platforms for example, entrepreneurs can engage with customers on an ongoing and affordable basis.
By giving young people the resources and support to build and grow their own businesses or to build digital skills, we have a unique opportunity to invest in the future of economic growth in South Africa. Opening new ways for them to share and connect is just the start; our focus will be on showing how technology can create jobs and prosperity for the next generation.
* Research commissioned by Facebook with Development Economics looking at the Digital contribution to the South Africa Economy
Emilar Gandhi is Public Policy Lead, SADC Region Facebook
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