Bridging the digital skills gap between youth unemployment and organisational staffing

A more gradual integration is necessary for budding professionals to gain the essential skills and experience to thrive.

A more gradual integration is necessary for budding professionals to gain the essential skills and experience to thrive.

Published Aug 14, 2023


Unemployed youth face a well-known conundrum: they can’t find a job without experience, and it’s almost impossible to gain experience without a job.

Mindworx, a South African talent and solutions agency, believes it has come up with a solution with its “Digital Pods”. It reports seeing outstanding results, with more than 90% of learners finding permanent employment at the end of the programme.

Mindworx launched its Digital Pods a year ago to bridge the divide between youth unemployment and organisational staffing needs for scarce digital skills, while providing a managed service to assist clients with critical digital projects. The Mindworx team maps the project, determines its clear outcomes and deliverables, and then configures a team of unemployed digital graduates, sourced through the Mindworx Academy, with the exact skills required for the task. Dedicated senior managers and functional experts guide, mentor and manage each Pod; with a focus on return on investment for the client, while providing young jobseekers with much-needed work experience.

Entry-level candidates often lack the necessary skills to navigate the rapidly changing digital landscape. At the same time, many businesses are stretched too thin to provide extensive mentoring and coaching for them to take on inexperienced digital talent. Thus, a more gradual integration is necessary for these budding professionals to gain the essential skills and experience to thrive.

Besides the necessary technical skills, learners are also taught the personal and professional 21st-century skills needed for succeeding in the workplace, including curiosity, grit, complex problem-solving, collaboration, empathy and networking.

"The key to the success of the programme is the unique blend of relevant learning experiences, clear expectations, a steadfast commitment to delivery, opportunities for real-world work, the courage to embrace mistakes, and an emphasis on personal development", says Visagan Naidoo, Mindworx’s consulting business head.

He also noted that measuring the success of the initiative is vital. In addition to delivering a project within precise guidelines, Mindworx has implemented effective systems to track metrics such as retention rates, career progression, employment rates, and participation satisfaction. "This data-driven approach enables us to continuously improve our offerings, meeting the evolving needs of both the participants and the industry," Naidoo adds.

Clients can also benefit from building a pipeline of digital talent that can be retained at the end of the project at no additional recruitment cost to the client. According to Naidoo, currently 90% of learners are employed full-time by the clients for whom a Pod was deployed, including large financial services and insurance brands.

Combined, Mindworx and the Mindworx Academy have placed almost 3 000 young people into first-time employment, with 60% hailing from rural areas. Together, these jobs are estimated to have injected R500 million annually into the South African economy.

“Mindworx is looking to train and place at least 5 000 learners and positively impact 25 000 lives by 2028 as it continues to forge a workforce ready to excel in the digital era,” Naidoo concludes.