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Insignis Solutions COO Errol Arthur Pillay's Quest for Holistic Youth Development in South Africa

Errol Arthur Pillay is our recent Master’s graduate; today, we keenly look into his career, academic path, and the factors that may have contributed to his accomplishments.

When asked to take a deep dive in looking back and provide an overview of his career, the genesis of which occurred after completing a National Diploma in Human Resources Management, accords our Master’s alumnus, Errol Arthur Pillay.

Accordingly, Errol then developed his career as an HR officer in the banking, pharma, FMCG, and ICT industries. During this time, he furthered his studies and obtained a B Tech Degree in Human Resources Management. Two decades later, Errol exited the corporate world as General Manager of Human Resources.

Errol yielded to his deep desire to live a life of purpose – he became the CEO of Afrika Tikkun Services (ATS), a start-up social enterprise serving township communities in the NGO space. At ATS, Errol was able to express his call to serve and applied his skills in co-creating pathways towards change for youth seeking to unlock their full potential.

Errol is currently the COO and one of the founding shareholders of Insignis Solutions. In this role, he lives out his purpose. Infused with a need to express his call of service to others, this purpose is influenced by the insight that youth development in South Africa is currently missing the mark, according to Errol, and, as he continues, noting that the current high investment in youth development is not producing sustainable returns. This reality is not helpful to a South African economy that is in crisis and desperately in need of skills to help change the negative growth outlook. Errol further surmises that youth skills contribute significantly to the South African labour pool, and how these skills are developed may stand the country in good stead as the economy is being rebuilt.

The question, asks Errol, is: “Are we getting a return on investment for youth development and, if not, what is missing in our approach?”

In attempting to answer the question, Errol’s dissertation seeked to understand the relevance of a psychosocial development framework in youth employability development programmes in South Africa. The study further researched how evident the relationship between psychosocial development and youth employability is and identified gaps in current employability development programmes that can be addressed to attend to the psychosocial development needs of youth entering the world of work. Participants included unemployed youth, employed youth, potential youth employers and youth skills training providers.

After analysis, the emergent themes from the interviews were: Coaching and self-management, development as an enabler, youth employability, psychosocial development and ways of closing the gap. The results of this study propose a review of the current approach to a more holistic approach. An approach where psychosocial development becomes compulsory in a holistic youth development approach in youth skills development in South Africa, “a country where intentional youth development programmes are essential for our continued existence”, as Errol adds.

When asked to share what ensured the success of uncovering the study's findings, Errol credits the desire to be a better version of himself daily, along with his personal experience with a youth development approach that considers the value of psychosocial development. Errol's desire is to make a meaningful contribution that will help young people discover their full potential.

In recounting his journey to completing the dissertation, Errol states as follows: “This was one of the most challenging things to do, as I had to face so much self-doubt and criticism. I am inherently very hard on myself. It was also liberating, allowing me to re-discover my potential and contribution at this phase of my life. I have also learnt the value of being gentle with myself and the brilliance that is unlocked by this action. Overall, it reminded me that God still has a purpose for my life. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.”

Much like his acknowledgment of the challenging academic path he traversed, however, “it has given me more confidence in my writing ability and to see value in my thinking”, concedes the reflective Errol.


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