“Investing in Our Youth for a Better Future,” The realities of the English language in South Africa

In South Africa, we have the challenge of 11 official languages. It is a significant factor in distinguishing English skills levels of the workforce. 90% of society hears a different language from birth to that in which they will learn and work. This impacts early childhood development, critical thinking abilities, access to information in the learning journey and eventually in earning potential. Sadly, the average non-mother tongue speaker not only has difficulty to access employment, but often also sacrifices ideal development of home language. Enough research is available to support the importance of seeking new and more efficient approaches to non-mother tongue user schooling and development strategy overall.

The roadmap illustration below shows the various levels of competency in English and what it entails. In South Africa, the majority of our employable workforce are at a ‘Social Navigator’ competency of the English language when in the SME environment (and any workplace) we need them to be ‘Workplace Operators’.

In an ideal world, they would perform better in a work environment where they can operate in their home language. English is however the language of business – better outcomes depend on raising English literacy skills.

The Social Navigator is comfortable with familiar English phrases that cover essential aspects of life (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, their local area). He/she does simple and routine tasks requiring simple and direct information on familiar matters and in simple English terms. In the workplace, he needs predictable information and can explain routine procedures in English.

The Workplace Operator speaks correct English with ease, with a comfortable range of words to take part in most conversations in English on practical, social, and professional topics. Main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics are understood and English conversation is comfortable. Writing is clear and in some detail on a wide range of topics and can explain and motivate views and opinion.

Employers prepared to face the realities of their workforce’s true ability to cope in an English environment will take responsible steps to improve such. It will stop valuable training budgets to be misspent, good facilitators to become despondent with unresponsive candidates in learning programmes and poorly skilled employees unable to put knowledge to work.

Poor English literacy and numeracy levels set people up for failure if not recognised!

Be careful to:

  • Not select candidates in learning programmes at levels where the gap between delivery of content and capacity to absorb information is simply too big.
  • Match recruits in employment to job expectations
  • Identify talent and develop appropriately
  • Unlock workplace vocabulary, make documents readable for employee and customer/client English literacy skills levels.
  • Support access to innovative learning, allowing for a scaffolded approach with sufficient opportunity to apply and build confidence.

Look for quick wins to bridge gaps, avoid a quick-fix mentality.

Ask us about Bite-size English, our online solution to cultivate better access to opportunities. (Combined with our industry-customised conversation board game we entice non-mother tongue users into changing behaviour and using resources to continue developing English skills.) Our ultimate goal is to irradicate constraints in English skills towards economic growth.

At Kaleidoprax, we measure English literacy skills (ELSA, standardised assessment) to provide solutions to empower non-mother tongue speakers to excel in the English workplace.

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Home-Based Care

REQUIREMENT: ABET Level 4, Mathematical Literacy NQF Level 1 

ABOUT: The Home-Based Care skills programme enables the learners to perform basic first aid and implement primary health care and frail care 

5 Weeks theoretical training at a POPUP centre, 
Monday to Friday from 08:00 – 15:00 
12 Weeks practical training at a clinic 
(Night/Day Duty – Weekdays/Holidays/Weekends) 

Hospitality Services

The Hospitality skills programme provides the learner with the skills needed to become an assistant chef and a food server assistant. These skills will empower the learner to work in any restaurant establishment, or even to start their own catering company/restaurant. 

REQUIREMENT: Minimum of NQF Level 2 literacy and numeracy 
16 weeks (Including Work Integrated Learning) 

Early Childhood Development

The ECD qualification will enable recipients to facilitate the all-round development of young children in a manner that is sensitive to cultural and individual needs (including special needs), and enable them to provide quality early childhood development services for children in a variety of contexts, including community-based services, ECD centres, at home and in institutions 

REQUIREMENT: English Communication and Mathematical Literacy at NQF Level 3 

Workshops of one week (5 days) per month, with compulsory attendance per programme. Practical experience at an ECD centre under supervision of a qualified (level 4 or higher) ECD practitioner as mentor 

Computer & Office Admin

The Computer and Office Administration skills programme provides learners with the skills required to be involved in the administration function in any organisation or business 

REQUIREMENT: Meeting minimum literacy requirements 
PROGRAMME DURATION 11 Weeks theoretical training at a POPUP centre,  

Monday to Friday 08:00 -15:00 
1 – 3 Weeks practical training in the business environment 

Adult Education Training

The AET skills programme is the foundation training for all learners who do not meet the minimum requirements for the accredited skills programmes of their choice and to ensure that they are ready for any skills programme. In addition, learners that already qualify to do a skills programme may also utilise the AET programme to improve their English and Mathematics while 
waiting for placement in another skills programme. 


REQUIREMENT: Meeting minimum literacy requirements 
PROGRAMME DURATION3 Months, Monday to Friday 08:00 – 15:00 

Quality Staff

POPUP also offers its skills training to corporate clients that want to up-skill their employees.

We provide training solutions such as Adult Education and Training, Occupational Health and Safety, Life skills, Workplace Readiness and a variety of soft skills to suit the requirements of the corporate environment.

Learnerships & Host Employment

Your company can get involved in furthering the practical skills of our POPUP learners.

Essentially the learner would work within your workplace environment at no cost to your organisation besides the workspace and equipment required to complete day to day tasks, while they gain useful work experience.

Enterprise Development

We train new entrepreneurs in developing their own businesses through an Enterprise Development programme that includes both theoretical & practical training. Many of our skills programmes have an entrepreneurial focus.

You can obtain the full benefit of claiming points for ED through:

Capital outlay

Supporting entrepreneurs in training and mentorship

Involving entrepreneurs as suppliers of your business

Preferential rates and supply chain support

Tax Benefits

98% of the beneficiaries are designated groups.

Claim your financial or “donation in kind” contribution as a deduction on your income tax. 

POPUP provides a Tax Certificate to you.

B-BEEE Scoring

POPUP is a B-BEEE level 1 contributor and is a value-adding organisation.

Benefits include an additional 15 points on your B-BBEE scorecard.

POPUP is a credible and accountable organisation with good corporate governance systems.

POPUP is aligned with the National Development Plan (NDP).

Obtain maximum SED, ESD and Skills Development points for your B-BBEE scorecard.

POPUP will be able to present skills training to your lower level employees at your company premises at times and intervals suitable to your needs.  Our Personal Growth and Life Skills Programme, AET (previously ABET) and Basic Computer Training will develop and empower your staff as part of your annual Skills Plan. Obtain B-BBEE scorecard and tax benefits for Skills Development and claim your contribution back from the Skills Fund.  POPUP will measure the outcome and ensure ROI to you as a company.


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