SA students scoop top honours for job app

Image: 123RF/Fabio Formaggio

Umvozu‚ a new app that links employers and job-seekers‚ has scooped an international prize for a team of South African students.

The app offers a gaming process to help job-seekers upskill themselves‚ and also “allows employers to access the job characteristics of the app users” to help them “make better judgements about who to employ“‚ said the University of Cape Town.

The team‚ which was assembled by Sakhe Mkosi and also consists of Fuaad Coovadia‚ Boitumelo Dikoko and Kabelo-Keitumetse Murray‚ won the 2017 Geneva Challenge which encourages interdisciplinary masters students to find solutions to the world’s development problems.

Apart from Murray who studies at Wits University‚ they are all undergraduates from UCT now engaged in postgraduate studies.

“Even before finding out that we would be going to the finals‚ we spent time planning the implementation process by creating partnerships and planning out the platform. We all know that unemployment‚ which is closely linked to skill deficiency‚ is a serious issue in South Africa‚ so we are now continuing to work on the project as we have an opportunity to change someone’s life forever‚” said Dikoko.

For job seeker Pozisa Apleni‚ 29‚ from Gugulethu‚ the app will only have an impact if it is taken seriously‚ kept active and doesn’t become yet another app designed by university students who then move on with their own careers.

“At school I was excited about studying law or social work‚” she said‚ but university was never an option for anyone in her family‚ and after a short stint at college‚ the money ran out.

“I don’t want my mom to have to work so hard for the rest of her life as a domestic‚” she said. “I want to be able to support her after all these years of working so hard.

According to a report published by the Centre for Development and Enterprise‚ youth unemployment is “the country’s most pressing socio-economic crisis“.

The report says at the end of 2016‚ there were just over 20 million young people (aged between 15 and 34 years) in South Africa.

Of these‚ 6.3 million were employed‚ 3.7 million were unemployed but looking for work‚ 2.1 million were unemployed but were no longer looking for work (called ‘discouraged’ job seekers)‚ and eight million were not economically active.

Overall‚ about 7.5 million young people (nearly 40% of all young people) were so-called ‘NEETs’ – not in employment‚ education or training.

“In a country with 20 million young people‚ for 7.5 million of them not to be in school‚ training or employment poses an enormous challenge. This devastating reality for millions and millions of young people is the result of the malign legacies of apartheid and the failure of a democratic society to adopt policies that respond to the extent and severity of the crisis‚” reads the report.

To put that number into perspective‚ it is equivalent to the entire labour force of Gauteng and is more than the total number of women in employment in the whole of South Africa.

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