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How Career Coaching is supporting SA Youth and why it's integral to an authentic career path

Updated: Jun 15, 2020

What is career coaching?

Very simply, career coaching is conducted by a professional coach that supports, guides and provides tools to young people to achieve their career goals. Our work is rooted in the fundamental belief in the client’s innate talent, brilliance and capability to do great things in their careers.

It is important to note that it is not counseling and it is not therapy. Whilst coaching may reduce anxiety and stress, our coaches do not directly tackle mental health issues. If this is picked up, we refer the client to a trusted counselor/therapist that may provide specialised support needed in these areas.

Career coaches do not simply help with a CV revamp or prepping for an interview, because if this was true – the unemployment rate would be what it is. According to the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) results released by Statistics South Africa, The youth aged 15–24 years are the most vulnerable in the South African labour market as the unemployment rate among this age group was 55,2% in the 1st quarter of 2019. Among graduates in this age group, the unemployment rate was 31,0%

The truth is that getting these seemingly simple tasks right, such as a well written CV or excelling in a job authentically, require far more self awareness than most people realise. And this is the gap that is currently found in young people wanting to succeed in their careers. The goal is to support young people in making informed decisions about their career development and trajectory, as well as offer various tools that they can use—cv’s, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles etc—to meet those goals.

Coaching digs deep into who you are, your purpose, the magnificence of all that makes you unique. It supports the alignment to your employability brand in order to achieve your career goals.

What truly emerges, is a greater understanding of who you are. A client walks away discovering their strengths, learning about what their calling is and fervently moving in that direction to take up their place in this world. The core is the client, not the tasks. We give you concrete steps, the tools, the support and never-ending positive space for you to achieve these goals.

The core virtue of career coaching is to help people assess their professional situations with a greater degree of honesty, curiosity, empathy and compassion

Our career coaches are qualified in what they do and have 1000’s of hours of experience working with youth. They are not mentors or “advice givers” – they use their very specific skills to help you meet your immediate goals and also learn life long skills. We are aiming for a longer shift in mindset for young people – a “teach a man to fish” approach.

What is the top most common misconceptions about career coaching?

That a well-done CV is all you need to conduct an effective job search—and that career coaches will actually find you a job. Whilst it is important to have your CV in tip top shape, your CV does not get the hits it needs in landing you a job, because you are missing something in communicating your employability on paper. THAT’S how coaching supports the youth. We help young people understand their value, their KSA (Knowledge, Strengths and Abilities), their lifestyle needs and then help them communicate that on paper to get the recruiter's attention.

There's also the popular notion that you only have to attend a single career coaching session ... and your job challenges will be resolved. It actually takes a minimum of 3 sessions to see the impact in mindset, behaviour and results and often clients book one session to find that they want more support from that coach and go on to book a series of sessions.

Some of our clients come back as they grow in their careers for more coaching packages, which we love because we get to see the growth and potential of all we saw when first started working with them!

What can the average person expect to get from working with a career coach?

Young people can expect to gain confidence, insight, encouragement and inspiration in their career efforts. They should also feel as if the coaching relationship grants them some permission to breathe in and pause a bit. The job search can create a fair amount of anxiety, fear and vulnerability in our youth. Usually, young people get frustrated (as any age group would) with submitting numerous applications for jobs but not landing the interview...or going for countless interviews and not landing the job.

This is usually centered around some fundamental shifts in their thinking about themselves and how they show up in the world. This is where coaching has a direct impact. We often work with clients to unpack those emotions so they can better understand how these factors may be keeping them stuck in their careers.

Why is coaching so important for youth?

While I believe that career coaching can be helpful at every point of someone's career, good career coaching in university or immediately post-university can place our youth on a more solid footing—not just with a well-crafted CV and a suitable career path, but also equipped with a mindset that helps them understand their specific career aspirations and how they want to define their future. Beyond this, a good coach can help answer questions, dispelling myths and provide incredible resources and guidance in a client's particular industry.

Our youth in SA, have been marginalised and often lured into studying qualifications they are not even remotely interested in

I worked as a Student Advisor for many years when I began my career and loved every ounce of career counselling. What I noticed was that many students embarked on a qualification because they were told they would earn well. This is very common in our previously disadvantaged community’s as we are often a line of first generational income through education. However, many found that when they began looking for a job – they struggled or did not see the lavish income they were promised.

Many young and even more experienced clients say that they actually do not find fulfilment in their work based on what they have studied. This is an incredibly underrated comment and one that deserves a great deal of attention in South Africa. This shows that your education might not be enough to sustain longevity in a fulfilling and meaningful career.

Beyond youth coaching, Sivuka also train, coach and recruit youth organisations. The insights we derive from the organisations we work with are interesting. The more fulfilled and motivated an employee is by his/her work the more likely they are to earn more, be promoted and have a general sense of well being. So your “success” in the working world is largely attributed to your alignment of your studies and your passion/purpose.

In a recent survey of working graduates, around 61% of 494 respondents said they would go back and change their major if they could.

People are realizing that maybe the major that they studied is not actually aligning with the outcomes that they want in their life. Career coaching helps clients navigate this alignment and young people make better decisions in their careers at the outset.

So how can young people get the balance of purpose, passion and income in their careers?

If you are doing something you really, truly enjoy, it shouldn’t feel like work at all. Ideally, you should feel a sense of alignment between your work and your values.  It’s only in that space of overlap, which may or may not relate to your sense of purpose in the world, that a genuine sense of career gratification becomes possible. If you want a career that brings fulfilment, then aligning your work with your values and being is essential. Coaching supports this directly and helps guide our youth towards creating the balance between purpose and a solid income.

Keen to know more about your virtual career coaching options? Drop us a mail and request more info and your free consultation. We would love to help support you on your career journey!


Written by Ashalia Maharajh | Life Coach | Founder & Director of Sivuka

Ashalia holds a Bachelor of Social Science and Honours Degree in Psychology with 14 years of experience within HR and Executive Education. She is passionate about Self Mastery, Mindfulness and Neuroscience. At Sivuka, she takes an introspective approach to fundamental topics to develop SA's youth and tackle unemployment. Her positive, enthusiastic nature and innate ability to discover the strengths within others, helps her unleash potential and purpose within others as a Life Coach. Beyond her career, she is a wife and mom to 3 daughters in Johannesburg.

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