Correspondence Between Work and Exercise

Correspondence Between Work and Exercise

Youth unemployment is a significant issue prevalent across our globe. While there are many reasons for this, a critical one is the lack of work readiness and employability skills. This is the result of the large gap between what and how students learn in school and the requirements of the world of work.

Have you ever seen an athlete prepare for an event or have you trained for a particular sporting event? Training programmes that equip youth with work ready skills are similar to the training that athletes go through when they get ready to compete professionally.

The first element is basic conditioning which includes developing a general foundational level of fitness, i.e. the stamina or strength that an athlete needs to perform at their best. This type of conditioning can include working out in the gym, lifting weights or running on a treadmill. In preparing yourself for work, this may involve developing the ability to work longer hours and work in a more concentrated way than you have been used to.

The second element of conditioning that athletes go through is to sharpen their skills – this only comes through deliberate practice. This type of practice takes place in the environment in which the sport is played (e.g. sports field or the course). The athlete practices with all the equipment needed for the particular sport. It simulates the actual sporting event. In order for you to be work ready you will have to focus on practicing the “hard” skills related to the job. This means when you enter the workplace you can perform the work tasks required of the employer with a measure confidence.

The third element of athletic conditioning focuses on the more qualitative or “soft skill” aspects of the athletic performance. This can include teamwork, tactics and strategy, and the mental conditioning for dealing with the opposition and adverse conditions. How do you learn to deal with “chirps”, verbal abuse and off-the-ball incidents? Most work also requires also requires preparation for these kinds of “soft” elements. Work readiness includes skills such as goal setting, communication, collaboration, time-management, persistence, flexibility and client management. The aim of this kind of training is to holistically develop resilient, work-ready candidates.

Designing work readiness programmes for young people needs to take all of the above elements into account and build them into an overall process. Best practice (and we note the pun) examples used in the development of the WorkFit Toolkit purposefully integrate these elements into the training process. Our Toolkit will assist all role players to design and develop appropriate and relevant programmes to make young people able to participate effectively and efficiently in work processes.


  • Understand work readiness and how to move from performing in the classroom to performing in the work environment.
  • Work readiness cannot be developed in the classroom alone because you need to be familiar with the work environment and its pressures in order to succeed.
  • WorkFit isn’t just about the practical skills and theoretical knowledge learnt but it also about equipping yourself with the soft skills.  


Andile Msimang

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