As South Africa faces a critical shortage of skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and youth unemployment is at an all-time high, closing this gap has become a vital imperative.
In a bid to both tackle youth unemployment and seek innovative solutions to the STEM skills crisis in South Africa, the 3rd Annual STEM Conference & Career Expo will take place from 4 to 5 October 2019 at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg.
While the overall rate of unemployment in South Africa remains high – at 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019 – more alarming is the rate of unemployment among South Africa’s youth, who account for 63.5% of all unemployed people. This is according to an article posted by Stats SA in May 2019, which also notes that unemployment rates for youth graduates, traditionally a more resilient statistic in the face of unemployment, also showed a sharp increase to 31% in Q1: 2019 as compared with 19% in Q4: 2018.
“At the same time, South Africa is grappling with a crippling skills shortage in the STEM arena and we now find ourselves at a critical juncture in the country’s social and economic trajectory that demands our urgent attention. As highlighted by the Presidency, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us and we need to be ready and equipped to leverage and unlock its opportunities for a prosperous and economically sustainable South Africa,” says Amalia Hendricks, STEM Conference & Career Expo Director.
“This is a time of tremendous opportunity for the youth and stakeholders, including corporates and government agencies, who wish to stake their claim in the future of the country; we have a burning need for STEM skills in both the public and private sectors and we have an abundance of young STEM graduates eager to make their mark in the workforce. As a key matchmaker in this realm, STEM Conference & Career Expo brings STEM graduates and business together to erode barriers to riding the 4IR wave,” she adds.
The 3rd Annual STEM Conference & Career Expo aims to build on previous years’ successes by matching STEM graduates with prospective businesses in this arena. “Our objective is to make recruiting technical graduates easier and more cost-effective, supporting companies in building talent pipelines that are underpinned by quality and diversity,” remarks Hendricks.
The STEM Conference & Career Expo is rooted in a vision for a truly prosperous and resilient South Africa that actively seeks solutions to its challenges. “The STEM Conference & Career Expo is an essential vehicle for driving youth employment and changing the trajectory of young people’s lives through learnerships, bursaries and access to career opportunities. This is a national imperative to drive much-needed positive change,” remarks Hendricks.
“For us, the STEM Conference & Career Expo is about effecting change; it’s about turning the tide on South Africa’s STEM skills shortage and high unemployment rates through ethical leadership, connection and collaboration between graduates and the whole spectrum of stakeholders in the STEM arena, including corporates, educational institutions, government departments and agencies, and private service providers. South Africa is poised to be at the forefront of Africa’s explosion into the Fourth Industrial Revolution – and STEM is our golden ticket,” concludes Hendricks.