There are more unemployed women than men in South Africa – but there’s a solution
In SA, nearly 1,5 times more women than men have no formal education, a situation further exacerbated by teenage pregnancy, which severely threatens career prospects. According to the Association of Accounting Technicians, this problem can be tackled by upskilling women, thus making more employable by companies struggling to find staff with the necessary skills.
Natalie Zimmelman, General Manager of the Association of Accounting Technicians, says due to family commitments and the current economic climate, women are more likely to miss out on the chance for further education. “This means they often occupy the lower-level positions within organisations and are unable to progress, due to a lack of qualifications. As a result, companies neglect to develop the potential of their staff, leaving it unbalanced in terms of gender roles,” she says.
Zimmelman adds that SA doesn’t have sufficient skills to squander the potential that sits within over 50% of our population. “Many households are women-led and without the opportunity to enhance the income potential of these women, we can’t build a sufficiently strong financial base to build our skills into the future.”
When implementing upskilling policies, Zimmelman recommends looking for qualifications that offer women a reasonable chance of success, given the vast number of external and internal pressures they face. Employers should also offer support and, if possible, funding to empower their female employees. “Staff members need to be invested in, just like any other asset of a company. That said, the entrepreneur’s also under pressure to ensure that this investment brings a return. Short courses don’t necessarily change the competence of an individual – they enhance knowledge. Therefore, choosing qualifications that help employees meet specific business needs is essential. “
One of the pitfalls of learning on the job is that women are taught to perform a specific task without understanding why it’s necessary. “Focusing solely on a specialisation with a narrow focus doesn’t allow one to see the big picture. This can affect one’s role and, ultimately, the cash flow cycle. Being able to see how different functions and duties fulfil the company’s aims makes women more employable and enhances their value to the organisation.”
Professional qualifications provide women with a well-rounded skills set. They don’t only concentrate on the technical aspects of their jobs, but also on the professional and soft-skills side of the business. This builds their confidence and improves their understanding of the company’s operations within its particular industrial sector.