By 2020 almost 80% of jobs will require STEM education

The Department of Small Business Development in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa has launched the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) at Africa’s first Start-Up Campus on Monday.

Addressing the launch of the initiative, the small business minister Lindiwe Zulu said government is committed to supporting small and medium enterprises, to build their capacity and leverage national, regional and global value chains.

The culture of entrepreneurship is growing in sub-Saharan Africa, with indicators related to entrepreneurial motivation on par with or higher than global peers, the minister said.

“In South Africa, however, although our entrepreneurial activity is improving, it still lags behind other parts of the world,” Zulu said.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2017/2018 report, total early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) in South Africa is at 11%, 4.1 percentage points higher compared to 2016’s score of 6.9%. This is an indication of an improvement on this index.

Entrepreneurial intentions has also increased in the last few years to 11.7% up from 10.1% in 2016/2017.

Speaking at a panel at the briefing, Microsoft director of the public sector, Lilian Barnard said that one of the biggest challenges South African entrepreneurs face – as well as those looking for work in corporate firms, is a lack of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills.

Barnard said that by 2020 about 80% of all jobs will require young people to have some sort of STEM education.

“When I talk on open platforms – especially to young people and women – when I speak about ‘how to get a ticket to the game’, it’s that you actually do get a STEM education,” she said.

“Because this is how you prepare young people for the world of work, you prepare them for the world of tomorrow – because the opportunity will be here, but will we be able to fill the gap, and will be be able to take advantage of the digital economy?”

Barnard emphasised the importance of companies becoming more flexible and agile in an effort to cater for young people in the work place.

“Youngsters leave organisations because we are not agile enough or we have not transformed, as much as we give them the technology they need, often company culture is not conducive for them to thrive.

“More young people prefer to be freelancers. Youngsters are telling us they don’t want to do a ‘nine to five’, so you can no longer lure them with perks. Nowadays young people are looking for a place that has some degree of freedom,” Barnard said.

Read: Government’s bold plan to improve maths and science at schools

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By 2020 almost 80% of jobs will require STEM education