I recently had an unforgettable experience, training a group of students under the Microsoft Student 2 Business program. This particular group of students was most my second such group I trained this year. As always, whenever one trains a group of students, it’s more or less business as usual, until you notice something special about them. Indeed, there was something special about this group.This particular group of 5 university graduate students, taken under the wing of a prominent I.T company based in Centurion, comprised of 3 boys and 2 girls. The first thing to note is that all these students were all millenials, fresh out of university, and had just got lucky enough to have been given their first real job experience as part of the Microsoft Student to Business Program. In such a case, as I got to know, their salaries were obviously not great . . .none of them owned a car as yet, and none had ever tried Uber before, as they deemed it to be quite expense. They really reminded me of my old self when I started out in the corporate world, spending almost 3 hours of travel time to and from work everyday via public transport.
The students, who mostly still stay with their parents, some in high density suburbs of Pretoria, recited to me stories of how most of their friends, also lucky to be fresh out of university are still sitted at home, hoping to get an opportunity to enter the corporate world soon. The rest of their friends without degrees, they told me, are in a worse off situation. A few hours into the training I also realized how little University had equipped with with the actual technical skills that was required for them to actively contribute to their employers as Software Developers, Testers and Business Analysts. They acquired a great deal of the skills on the job. I also realized how some of them, especially the 2 girls had brilliant software development skills, yet had settled for job positions as Software Testers. They told me, at the end of the training that they now felt confident to upgrade their careers and become Software Developers going forward
As a trainer, after understanding the type of students that had been entrusted to me, I quickly realized that it was not only my duty to do what I had been assigned to do, as dictated by the syllabus of the course. It was also my noble responsibility, as the MCP training them, and as a person with 10 years working experience as a Software Developer, to mentor them, and paint a positive picture of possibility through my own life experiences, and inform them of what strategies they could employ to succeed as I.T professionals in their own right. One of the students earlier on, had actually regretted at some point, why he had ever gone to university in the first place, as a friend of his who had a acquired a set of I.T Networking certificates, seemingly had already made headway in his career, and was now driving a car. I, as a trainer had to deal with such insecurities and concerns and had to inspire them of the opportunity they had in their hands, and what they could do with it.
I am particularly thankful, that through the Microsoft Student 2 Business program, students in South Africa, I personally got to meet this group and got to train and mentor them. I am also thankful that through this program, some of the students who come from not so privileged backgrounds, now have an opportunity to enter the corporate world, soon after graduating, and can receive mentorship and training that can help them to actively contribute in their jobs and build meaningful careers that they can be proud of.
My sincere wish, is that more companies take it upon themselves to participate in such a noble program or come up with similar programs that are directly contributing in reducing youth unemployment. This is will help immensely help in reducing youth unemployment figures that are continuously rising each year and not expect the government to address this challenge, own its own. If we all contribute, and play a part, the story of South Africa will be a story that we will be proud of.