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Kholofelo Mabila, who heads the SAPICS Young Professional Committee that is driving the professional body’s youth and student initiatives

South Africa’s dire youth unemployment crisis and the critical skills shortage impacting many sectors made this year’s annual SAPICS Young Professional & Student Conference more important than ever, according to SAPICS, The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management.

Skills shortages were named as the eighth biggest risk facing businesses in South Africa by Allianz in the international financial services provider’s latest global risk report. According to Stats SA, the country’s youth unemployment rate stands at 46.5%.

SAPICS’s mission is to elevate, educate and empower supply chain professionals across Africa. “SAPICS strives to equip supply chain professionals to tackle current and future challenges,” expands MJ Schoemaker, president of the non-profit organisation. “Through our youth programme, which includes the annual Young Professional & Student Conference, SAPICS informs graduates and students of the opportunities that exist in the exciting and dynamic supply chain field. We also ensure that graduates and young professionals can access the skills, resources and experience they need to succeed in the profession and contribute to strong, resilient supply chains that are catalysts for economic growth and transformation.

“Today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment has thrown supply chain management into the spotlight across the world,” Schoemaker notes. “Amid the COVID-19 crisis and other chaotic disruptions, there is a growing demand for proficient supply chain practitioners who have the skills and knowledge to ensure that customers are served, and that the flow of essential goods and services – including lifesaving medicines – is not disrupted.”

In addition to compelling presentations by an array of insightful, relevant and inspiring presenters, the 2022 SAPICS Young Professional & Student Conference also offered vital networking and mentoring opportunities. “These are critical components for career success,” stresses Kholofelo Mabila, who heads the SAPICS Young Professional Committee that is driving the programme.

“The SAPICS Young Professional & Student Conference was a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to meet other students, as well as potential mentors. As a graduate myself, my biggest takeaway from the conference is the important role that networking and mentorship can play in one’s own career growth and development journey,” Mabila states. “In today’s highly competitive work environment, who you know and the organisations you are associated with can sometimes be just as important as what you know or your educational background.

“I really valued the mentoring session at the end of the virtual conference. These gave me the opportunity to speak to some of the guest speakers and ask them follow-up questions. In my opinion, this is what makes a successful virtual conference so great,” he contends. “Attendees do not just sit through the presentations, but are encouraged to participate, connect with others, and start discussions during the networking breaks between the presentations.”

The presentation is which Dr Patience Mpofu shared her insights and life story was highly rated by the delegates at this year’s SAPICS Young Professional & Student Conference, including Mabila. Mpofu is a best-selling author, global mining sustainability thought leader, former Vice President of an Australian-listed mining company, and the winner of multiple awards as one of the most influential women in mining in Africa.

“My favourite part of Dr Mpofu’s powerful presentation was her advice on how to conquer negative thoughts, as well as her recommendation to take the time every morning to write down three things we are grateful for,” says Mabila.

“One of the greatest challenges some students will face after graduation is finding an internship or graduate programme, as well as dealing with the rejections and failed interviews that come with the job-hunting process. Under such circumstances, some students could find themselves falling into despair or losing hope. Dr Mpofu offered practical advice on how to conquer negative thinking and limiting beliefs so that we can rise to life’s challenges. For me, this was one of many highlights of the 2022 SAPICS Young Professional & Student Conference,” he concludes.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’

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