SA HR news roundup: Digital transformation benefits youth, job losses hit women hard

Retrenchment claims show women more affected by pandemic-related job losses.

Power utility Eskom lands on a 1.5 percent wage increase following a deadlock with unions, embracing 4IR and digital transformation are key to unlocking opportunities for youth, and Old Mutual data shows that two of the three million people who lost jobs during the pandemic were women.

Young SA entrepreneurs meet 4IR
The Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority (EWSETA) has partnered with the 4IR-AquaTech Business Accelerator programme to provide a six-month mentorship programme to identify, develop support, fund and upscale a new generation of 4IR enabled solutions to address the Eastern Cape’s pressing food-energy-water challenges.

Twenty 4IR-AquaTech start-up companies will be matched with cutting edge technologies and market access opportunities. An important element of the programme is the widely-tested ‘Sustainable Sanitation and Water Management’ capacity development tool in the water, sanitation and resource management sector, which will serve as a key resource during training sessions.

Eskom implements 1.5 percent pay hike
Eskom will implement a 1.5 percent basic wage increase with effect from 1 July 2021, dependent on the efficiencies and savings realised from reviewing certain elements of employee benefits where there are excesses.

According to the state-owned enterprise, this will enable management to better protect jobs, address and manage risk to the organisation’s sustainability and allow the power utility to play its critical role of supplying electricity to the economy and in the public interest.

The decision has been formally communicated to the three recognised trade unions, namely the National Union of Mineworkers, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and Solidarity.

The youth need education and internet access
The IQbusiness annual Youth Progress Index (YPI) Report for 2021, which measures how social and environmental factors are impacting the quality of life of youth, has made the depressing but obvious conclusion that the youth of South Africa have very limited access to opportunities.

The limited access to advanced education is a critical factor that blocks young people’s opportunities and a cohesive national digital transformation policy that unifies public and private players behind a singular objective of promoting digital enablement in education and entrepreneurship will be essential to improve youth developmental outcomes over the next 10 years.

Covid-19 job losses affected women more
Data from Old Mutual shows that 58 percent of 2020 retrenchment cover claims were paid out to women, confirming that the economic impact of Covid-19 hit working women harder than it did working men.

According to Old Mutual Claim Statistics Report, of the three million jobs lost in early lockdown – between February and April 2020 – two-thirds, or two million, were held by women.

Old Mutual said it paid out 30 percent more in retrenchment cover claims in 2020 than in 2019, representing a R3 million increase.