One of the most effective ways to steer young people into employment and meaningful careers is to expose them to the range of options available to them. This is the focus and premise behind the annual Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) Career Expo.
Taking place on Saturday, 13 May at the GIBS campus in Illovo, Sandton, the 2017 edition of this popular event continues its successful track record of giving invited high-achieving grade 11 and 12 learners insights into the world of work, job opportunities and tertiary education options.
Hosted by the GIBS Centre for Leadership and Dialogue (CL&D), in conjunction with telecoms company MTN, high-potential youngsters come from a range of educational backgrounds around Gauteng, including non-fee paying, inner city and township schools, former model C schools and private institutions. The expo is part of the GIBS Spirit of Youth programme, a youth leadership programme aimed at senior high school learners (grades 11 and 12).
Now in its 12th year, the event has, to date, reached more than 20,000 learners with over 2,300 youngsters expected to attend this year alone. GIBS will also be launching ‘The Pulse of Youth Survey’ on the day where the CL&D will poll over 2000 young learners between 15 and 18 on issues such as career aspirations, their understanding of the political context, and social activism among others. This will provide a unique vantage to get insight from over 2000 learners on key contemporary issues in the South African discourse.
Elaborating on the intention of the expo, Abdullah Verachia, executive director of the Centre for Leadership and Dialogue at GIBS, says many young adults battle with the life choices they must make at such a tender age and many are uncertain of the full range of career choices open to them. Those with potential to study further, may also lack information about bursaries and work opportunities. “The Career Expo empowers these learners with information, access and exposure to individuals and institutions that can help them make the right choices in their transition from high school toward a better informed future,” says Verachia.
ManpowerGroup, a global resource company, noted in a 2010-2011 report on youth unemployment that: “One of the simplest and most direct things a employers can do is to partner with schools and vocational institutions to increase young people’s exposure to the world of work… they can provide speakers and participants for related activities such as career days and job shadowing. For many youth, business leaders can serve as role models and as an inspiration to set more ambitious goals for themselves.”
The GIBS Career Expo does just this, bringing business leaders and institutions together with learners, educational offerings and experts on the future world of work. MTN, GIBS’s partner in this endeavor, is just one company taking the opportunity to showcase its available career opportunities.
Says Nhlanhla Qwabe, Chief Human Resources Officer of MTN SA: “MTN is delighted that once again it will be partnering with GIBS on this worthy initiative of showcasing available career opportunities. Our partnership with GIBS gives expression to the attitude espoused by the organization, of facilitating access to quality education by leveraging the power of ICT and partnering with like-minded organizations. We hope that this Career Expo will open a window of possibilities for the learners and will motivate them to work harder to realize their dreams.”
On the day, learners can engage with exhibitors, ranging from youth employment specialists, to educational institutions, entrepreneurship experts and recruiting agents. Learners can also participate in one-on-one break-away sessions with entrepreneurs and professionals like lawyers, architects, scientists, engineers and aviation experts where they can dig deeper into these career choices.
Recognising the importance of educators in the ongoing drive to create a productive and vibrant economy, educators accompanying learners at the Career Expo will also enjoy some personal development time, by taking part in the popular “Teach like a hero” programme. This segment of the expo has been one of the most highly-rated in the past and is designed to equip educators with tools that will help them guide learners reach their fullest potential. “Teach like a hero” is an inspirational element of a dynamic day and one which is in step line with the Career Expo’s desire to help learners while fostering the future growth and prosperity of the country.
Says GIBS Dean, Professor Nicola Kleyn: “Young people benefit hugely from exposure to the opportunities in the current workforce, as well as information about the evolution of the future world of work. The tools we impart at Career Expo help learners transition from high school to work and better plan their working lives.”
She adds that Career Expo is as much an opportunity for business as it is for students. The days of old, where business often imposed its way of doing things is evolving into a more equitable environment which requires higher levels of collaboration and information sharing than ever before, says Kleyn. This is particularly true of the new, dynamic and changeable millennial generation. “This ‘new way’ of doing business is a strand which permeates the GIBS philosophy of learning,” says Kleyn, noting that when business, youth and educators begin to hear one other, then innovative things begin to happen.