Govt targets youngsters to meet future of work demands

“Whether we like it or not, we are old and we’re resisting technology, but it has become imperative that we use technology.”

Government is looking to young people to make the public service more agile and innovative.

This was the message at the official unveiling of the inaugural Future of Work (FOW) ambassadors programme during a hybrid event on Friday.

An initiative of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), in partnership with the National Youth Development Agency, Public Sector Education Authority and United National Development Programme, the FOW ambassadors programme aims to improve and modernise the recruitment and retention of youth in the public service.

Furthermore, the DPSA will use the programme to co-ordinate its human resource processes and improve the co-ordination of the modernisation and digitisation of a public service that is fit-for-purpose and future-fit, according to DPSA director-general Yoliswa Makhasi.

Speaking at the launch event, acting public service and administration minister Thulas Nxesi said while South African youth continue to bear the burden of unemployment, they are also key to building a public service that is innovative and versatile.

The minister stated government service points are lagging behind in the advancement of technology.

“Technology has the potential to relieve us in a number of areas in terms of service delivery,” said Nxesi, adding it can take the country very far. “Whether we like it or not, we are old and we’re resisting technology, but it has become imperative that we use technology.”

As part of the programme, the DPSA has recruited 33 young graduates to be placed in internship programmes across selected national and provincial departments for 24 months.

There, the young people will be provided with practical experience and be capacitated with skills and training, including exposure to international peer learning to complement their academic credentials, according to the department.

The target group is youth between the ages of 18 and 35, with skills relevant to the programme, including innovation, design thinking, data communication sciences and data analysis.

According to Nxesi, the FOW ambassadors programme needs to be on a massive scale, in order to meet the demands of the future of work.

He explained: “The purpose of the programme is to bring a different approach to government’s graduate recruitment programme that is focused on future skills. The public service seeks to build a foundation and legacy to ensure it recruits and retains a coterie of fresh skills and energetic candidates in the public service.

“The programme will unlock potential in young graduates to enhance their capacity and to grow them to be future leaders in the public service.”

The minister is of the view that young people will bring in innovation and fresh ideas that will strengthen the public service talent conduit.

“The programme will provide the youth with an opportunity to offer their creative and innovative ideas to the transformation of the public service and gear government up for an improved state of service delivery.

“Our aim is to build a cadre of public servants who are agile, resilient, dedicated and embody the required capacity and values as they traverse their careers in the public service,” he concluded.

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