UJ Career Fest 2021- Empowering and enabling the youth to pursue their dreams

​High school learners are often not sure about where to start when it comes to choosing the right option for their futures. To make the choice a little easier for them, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Northcliff Rotary Club, in partnership with the Canon Collins Trust and BTS Army South Africa, invited all Grade 8 – Grade 12 learners to attend the online Career Fest on Saturday August 21, 2021.

Dr Cerene Rathilal, UJ Lecturer and Project lead, said choosing subject packages for Grade 10 was a critical decision that every high school learner faced.

“The organising committee created this programme to simplify subject choice decisions for learners and provide expert guidance to FET phase learners on pursuing their careers. Empowering and enabling South African youth to pursue their dreams, seek education, and learn from the failures and successes of others is a necessity in nurturing, amongst others, the future leaders and innovators of our country,” she said.

Career coach Phiona Martin gave the learners much needed guidance to understand how to choose their careers wisely, stating that their interests today would be an important indicator for their future choices. During the plenary session, she advised the learners to not only focus on their interests in the classroom but also their hobbies outside of it.

“Your interests and abilities have to come together. If you have a strong or high interest in something it also has to be managed by an ability to do it or at least the potential to acquire that skill,” she said.

She also suggested to the learners that they invest some time in informational interviews with professionals both inside and outside their fields of interest. This will provide them more insight into the professions they were interested in through multiple perspectives.=

Rotary DG Dr Stella Anyangwe gave the learners an inspiring talk about her own career progression that led to her becoming the first female Cameroonian epidemiologist. She has achieved many more successes, including being the first black female district governor in the 100 years of Rotary in South Africa, and credits her success to hard work.

“From where I started to where I ended, I just had to think it to be able to do it…I want to tell you young ones that the bottom line is you need to dare to dream. Don’t limit your dreams, there is no harm in dreaming. Hard work pays. Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams than you are to your comfort zone,” she said.

UJ Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof. Tshilidzi Marwala was in discussion with founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks (the largest computer science non-profit organisation in Africa), Lindiwe Matlali. Matlali serves as the commissioner of the presidential 4IR commission chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Their 4IR Fireside Chat focused on the importance of technology and STEM subjects for the future.

“The 4IR is really a new mode of production where machines are becoming more intelligent and because of this, we can speak to them, they can fix themselves and are able to do the sort of things that used to be done by human beings,” said Prof Marwala.

He made mention of the recent launch of Elon Musk’s Tesla Bot as an example of 4IR.

Prof Marwala agreed that there was no development without science and technology.

“If your science and technology is not in order, you are going to remain poor as a country. We have no choice but to work hard in order to do this. You have to educate yourselves about science and technology. What you learn in school is simply not enough.”

Prof Marwala added that the idea of having a scientifically literate society was very important.

“Now if artificial intelligence and technologies are what is going to define the future, then all of us must engage in this.” At UJ, every student has to take a mandatory introduction course in artificial intelligence.

The career fest closed off with a message from the BTS Army of South Africa and prize giveaways to learners.

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