South Africa’s most comprehensive careers fair celebrates its landmark 25th edition in February 2024 with the vision to provide learners, teachers and carers with the widest ever range of career resources.

It also seeks to connect the quadruple helix of business, educators, government and civic society in aligning career related resources, study options and funding to actual employment opportunities.

Inkanyezi Events CEO Andrew Binning, who founded this community initiative in 1999 and subsequently formed partnerships in its delivery, including the Department of Education and organised business, says the Working World Initiative is all about addressing youth unemployment.

“It is a ticking time-bomb and the source of almost all evil in South African society. It requires a collective approach to diffuse and set our country on a new trajectory of growth, employment, hope, security and equality.”

The Working World Careers Expo annually for the past 24 years has reached more than 350 000 learners, unemployed youth and teachers directly at its multi-day extravaganza, which centres on the Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape. Exponentially more have benefitted from the resources produced through the initiative, like a Career Guidance textbook, created, printed and distributed free, thanks to partnerships.

Visitors, mostly in organised school groups, are exposed to over exhibitors, including educational  institutions, employers and entrepreneurial agencies.

Binning says the expo’s focus is on providing learners with resources and exposing them to options around study and career choices that leads to employment.

Pupils of attending schools also received a ‘comprehensive’ Career Guidance Guide or textbook and access to a screened DVD on future careers.

An added feature of the Working World Expo next year will be the “Entrepreneurial Hub’’ which aimed to inspire visitors into practical skills and opportunities that lead to entrepreneurial enterprises. Binning said the Entrepreneurial Hub included exhibits from a range of entrepreneurs and organisations whose mandate it is to support small businesses.

“Finishing school is a milestone but only the first step towards finding meaningful employment, which must be the focus if we are to deal with the unemployment crisis in South Africa, Binning said.

Binning said the 24th edition of the careers expo was hosted in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Coega Development Corporation, Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, the Eastern Cape Department of Education, Kingfisher FM and committed corporates.

“Over 20 years we and our partners have directly interacted with several hundred thousands of school-leavers, received an award from the presidents office for contribution to job creation and from the visitor feedback we receive, have made a serious contribution to one of our country’s most challenging issues.”

Binning stressed the importance of career guidance.

“Career guidance resources are essential to curb youth unemployment which is a serious concern in South Africa. Career planning is even more critical as the market place is demanding technical skills which is changing the shape of the job market, while trade-related skills present essential entrepreneurial opportunities.’’

Access to the annual expo and all of its resources is free to learners, parents, teachers, unemployed youth and all interested visitors.   It runs from 8.30am to 3pm from 20-22 February 2024 at the Feathermarket Centre in Gqeberha.