10 Themes to guide youth entering the workforce

It’s important for young people to take responsibility for their self-care by developing health habits like exercising regularly. Image: Freepik

It’s important for young people to take responsibility for their self-care by developing health habits like exercising regularly. Image: Freepik

Published Jul 26, 2023


The next generation will help turn South Africa’s economy around – but it will take commitment and creativity to do so. This is according to Coronation CEO, Anton Pillay, who recently engaged with learners and students, sharing life and career advice.

Here are Pillay’s 10 key themes to help guide young people as they embark on their professional journeys:

Use your education for good to find your purpose

In a country where 78% of Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning, you are in a fortunate position to complete matric with a solid education. A university degree offers you a higher chance of employment, but it is no guarantee of success. You need to think smart - not only about what you want to achieve in your own life, but also about how you can contribute to the betterment of society. If you can focus on excelling with the opportunities you were given, you will find your purpose and live a more fulfilled life.

Use technology to benefit your career and society

Technology advances such as big data and artificial intelligence are undergoing an exponential evolution at the moment, and in the careers of tomorrow, it will be important to have a firm grasp of these technologies. It is also important to distinguish how good actors and bad actors are able to use AI differently, and to make a commitment to use AI ethically and responsibly in line with the United Nations’ AI for Good principles.

It’s important for young people to take responsibility for their self-care by developing health habits like exercising regularly. Image: Freepik

Hone your critical thinking

The World Economic Forum calls critical thinking the top scarce skill of this decade. Critical thinking is the ability to use reason and logic to analyse and assess situations and problems to make informed decisions. Don’t take everything at face value - learn to think and solve for yourself.

Embrace creative thinking

Embracing your creativity does not necessarily mean artistic creativity. One can also use creative thinking to solve hard problems in business and society. Creativity is the ability to find new solutions for existing issues, and is the foundation of innovation. The key is to always look for possibility in every challenging situation.

Remember collaboration

Sometimes you have to put in the hard yards on your own. However, collaboration is at the heart of any economic endeavour – and teamwork and being open to diverse viewpoints are essential for achieving success in business.

Learn to communicate clearly

Less is more. Regardless of the career you ultimately pursue, you will discover that communicating clearly results in more successful outcomes. In most cases, you will do better if you use fewer, wisely chosen words that are very clear in their meaning. Bear in mind that there are verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and body language is also very important to master.

Be entrepreneurial

Entrepreneurial thinking is not just for people who start new businesses – it’s for anyone in business. It’s a mental attitude essential for navigating change and success. Always think abundantly in terms of the opportunities you can explore and create for yourself and others. You never know who you are going to meet, or what is around the next corner. But if you are prepared through consistent hard work, you’ll be ready for what life may throw at you.

Expect curveballs

The world is in a state of “permacrisis” where one crisis seems to roll into the next. Remember that all young people in every century of history faced a multitude of crises. It’s part of the human experience. This is not something to feel defeated by. Remember, crisis always brings opportunity. If you expect curveballs and remain optimistic, you will find your way.

Take good care of yourself

Don’t expect others to do your self-care for you. This is something you must cultivate for yourself. Try to develop healthy habits from as early on as possible, including eating healthy, getting regular exercise, taking time for rest and community engagement, taking care of your mental health and maintaining good hygiene, even digital hygiene.

Don’t let the high unemployment rate daunt you

This is a time in your life where you get to set the scene and choose your direction. Your voice counts. Yes, South Africa’s unemployment rate is staggering, but you always have options. If you don’t see options, you can create them. Surround yourself with people who support and challenge you to be the best you can be. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t figured out what you want from your life and career yet – the most important thing is lean into your opportunities, talents and skills. No-one can rob you of your future if you create your own opportunities.