A silent job boom
IGNORANCE about career opportunities in the wholesale and retail sector deprives the youth of chances in one of the fastest growing sectors.
The industry employs more than 1.5 million people and is the fourth biggest contributor to GDP.
As South Africa's working class swells, more shopping centres are being built in townships and rural areas.
Shoprite opens more than 50 new shops annually, which creates jobs and a demand for skills in the sector.
But few young people, especially in the black communities, know about careers in this industry. And a number of qualifications required in the retail space are offered at Further Education and Training Colleges (FET).
But matriculants still flock in droves to universities to pursue degrees in fields such as engineering, accounting, management sciences and many others.
According to the Wholesale and Retail Sector of Education and Training Authority (WRSETA) more than 42000 store managers will be needed in the next five year to meet demand in the rapidly expanding industry.
The wholesale and retail trade needs skilled employees such as buyers, IT technicians, distributers, merchandisers and store managers.
WRSETA uses internships and other skills development schemes where young people are placed with retailers and 70% find employment after completing their training.
WRSETA chief executive Joel Dikgole said the country needed a shift in the way it viewed FET colleges and the retail space.
"The challenge we face in the country is that we need to catch young people at an early age and say to them if you want to become this, this is the path you need to take.
"You do not just become a manager straight from school," Dikgole said.
"Even as parents we need to change our attitude. The notion that a child has to go to university (to be something) is something that we need to outgrow," he added.
"As a country we cannot be pumping money into universities and then people come out with degrees, but they do not have jobs. We must have the college system fixed so that it has credibility."
Dikgole said Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande was making efforts to get universities to recognise qualifications attained at other academic institutions.
He said problems in the past were caused by the fact that universities, FET colleges and private colleges did not communicate with each other, hence one institution would sometimes not recognise the other's qualification.
In addressing the shortage of skills WRSETA has taken 500 youths from rural areas to go into a 12-month training programme, which will see them gain various skills in the wholesale and retail space.