Success Project

The SUCSESS project is coordinated by Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences and is funded by the ERASMUS+ Capacity building programme. The Capacity building programme supports projects between actors in higher education from EU Member states and developing countries. The aim of these projects is to address the challenges facing higher education institutions and to promote people-to-people contact as well as intercultural understanding. The SUCSESS project, aimed at enhancing employability and lifelong learning in South Africa, was approved in 2019, and its activities began in January 2020. As aforementioned, youth unemployment has increased in South Africa. Whilst the root causes to the challenge of youth unemployment are complex and multifaceted, the SUCSESS project aimed to improve the employability and work readiness of university students by introducing new strategies for teaching and learning whilst also enhancing the so-called knowledge triangle to enhance inclusive regional development. Disruptive Times Require New Learning Methods Recent decades have seen global universities undergo some significant changes. Not only do universities offer research excellence, they also provide a commitment to their students in delivering high-quality teaching and learning and ensuring quality graduate outcomes. Increasing focus and efforts have been dedicated to enhancing the employability and work readiness of graduates. Yorke and Knight (2006: 8) define employability as “a set of achievements- skills, understandings and personal attributes- that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations”. A university degree is always an investment from the perspective of students. That said, the high cost of semester fees can lead to potential applicants also considering the possibilities of gaining a decent job without a university degree for instance, or to consider working and studying short courses in their free time (Businesstech, 2022). According to the Gap Report (2020) conducted in the first phase of the SUCSESS project, students in South Africa have fewer opportunities to engage with industry compared with students in Finland, especially in such activities that require a higher degree of commitment from the industry. South African students also have lower expectations when it comes to finding their dream job in comparison to their British and Finnish counterparts (SUCSESS, 2020). A contributing factor to this is posited to be the fact that the overall youth unemployment in South Africa has been high for a long time. When this project was initiated, youth unemployment was around 30 percent in South Africa, compared to around 12 percent in Finland. Concurrently, South Africa was facing a shortage of employees in several business sectors such as technology and health care, as well as a significant ‘brain drain’ - i.e., welleducated experts leaving the country. 7