Youth can still reach ca­reer dreams de­spite shock of re­ces­sion in SA

Sunday World - - Viewpoint - Peter J. van Nieuwen­huizen Nieuwen­huizen is chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer at the Growth In­sti­tute.

Ican­not re­mem­ber ex­actly when I started but I have an ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of five-cent coins. I am not a nu­mis­matic in the true sense of the word per se as I did not ac­cu­mu­late the stash to study the coins or as a hobby. I am more like a bib­lio­phile.

I think I started hoard­ing the stash be­cause I had street kids and car guards on my back, so I just chucked the bronze coins in the car’s ash­tray. How­ever, none of those ask­ing me to throw a coin their way ap­pre­ci­ated my ges­ture when I of­fered them. Even my own sprogs deemed me a scrooge when I asked them to raid the ash­tray when they needed cash for snacks.

To­day’s five­cent coin has a bad rap com­pared to the value of the shiny sil­ver coin in my day.

Back in those days, five cents went a long way as I could buy a ginger bis­cuit, sweet aid cooler and still be left with the change to tithe at church.

TMy col­lec­tion has been gath­er­ing dust since no­body ap­pre­ci­ates they are still le­gal ten­der at the mar­ket. As a mat­ter of fact, some stores re­ject them out­right for a pur­chase.

Even when they round up the prices of the items you pur­chased, they’d give you 10 cents change since the one cent has been out of cir­cu­la­tion for years.

The plight of the five-cent coin came to my mind this week as the fuel price surged yet again. In its wis­dom, our car­ing gov­ern­ment de­cided to cush­ion the blow to mo­torists and an­nounced it would ab­sorb the 28 cents per litre in­crease and only in­crease the juice price by five cents.

Ap­par­ently, the zoka in­crease in the re­tail mar­gin of petrol is to cater for the salary in­crease for fore­court at­ten­dants, cashiers and ad­min staff.

I wish I was mak­ing this up but that is the state of our na­tion at the mo­ment. The depart­ment of en­ergy said it was aware the price rise of the past few months had put us un­der pres­sure and had de­cided to in­ter­vene. How­ever, this cush­ion was a “once-off tem­po­rary in­ter­ven­tion”, it said.

In­deed the price of gas went up by five cents on he an­nounce­ment on Tues­day that South Africa is in a tech­ni­cal re­ces­sion has been met with mixed feel­ings.

There are some who have an “I told you so” at­ti­tude. Others want to run for the hills and think that the coun­try is one step closer to a failed state. An­other group con­sid­ers the re­ces­sion as the dy­ing breath of the Guptafi­ca­tion era, whereas a fourth group has a “wait and see” at­ti­tude.

Ex­pend­able house­hold in­come has been un­der pres­sure for a long time. Con­sumers are ques­tion­ing Wed­nes­day and we ought to be thank­ful for that.

I thought I may have fi­nally found the way to get rid of my col­lec­tion of five­cent coins. So I drove to my near­est filling sta­tion and ap­proached mo­torists and of­fered them coins per litre to cush­ion the blow of an­other the high lev­els of wastage at sta­te­owned en­ter­prises, evap­o­rat­ing monies that could have been used else­where.

The rest of Africa ex­pe­ri­ence high lev­els of eco­nomic growth de­spite their own in­ter­nal trou­bles. See­ing coun­tries such as Nige­ria, Egypt and Ghana grow faster than South Africa makes peo­ple won­der what new, fan­tas­tic ex­cuses will be of­fered to ex­plain SA’s slump.

For the youth of South Africa, news of a tech­ni­cal re­ces­sion cre­ates feel­ings of panic and con­fu­sion. The youth feel they are con­stantly be­ing robbed of op­por­tu­ni­ties be­cause they feel that ac­cess to ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion be­comes more con­strained and ex­clu­sive each time there is an eco­nomic hic­cup. They are al­ready rest­less be­cause grad­u­ates are in­crease. Some were amused but others looked at me like I was a fugi­tive from a men­tal fa­cil­ity. I wouldn’t dare of­fer them to the petrol at­ten­dants be­cause in­stinct warned me my ges­ture would land me a blood­ied nose.

I usu­ally tip an at­ten­dant who washes my wind­screen un­able to find jobs. A rest­less youth could be dan­ger­ous. There is so much emo­tions and hard feel­ings, and a wob­bly econ­omy could be a spark that cre­ates greater lev­els of in­sta­bil­ity.

Slowly but surely the youth is see­ing past ex­cuses and they de­mand ac­tions that will trans­late into real growth and not just in an at­tempt to re­dis­tribute lim­ited wealth.

For the youth it is time to es­tab­lish a work­er­acy that helps to en­sure sorely needed eco­nomic ex­pan­sion.

More than ever be­fore, get­ting an af­ford­able ed­u­ca­tion that is recog­nised by pro­fes­sional bod­ies will be a fo­cus for the youth.

Whether a re­ces­sion is tech­ni­cal or and it is never with a five­cent coin. But of course gov­ern­ment-nomics are not the same as the re­al­ity on the ground. I think it is time en­ergy min­is­ter Jeff Radebe paid me a visit so I could cush­ion his min­istry from the cush­ion he cush­ioned us with this week. not, it does cre­ate a roller coaster of emo­tions. The youth is es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble be­cause they can see their dreams to get a ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion or a job evap­o­rate quicker than a soap boxer can make a speech.

Work ex­pe­ri­ence does not mean a per­son has to be for­mally em­ployed by some­one else. The ba­sic tenet of work­er­acy states that one should be able to use a com­bi­na­tion of tal­ents, in­ter­ests, skills and qual­i­fi­ca­tions to cre­ate one’s own work.

Thus, a per­son who has a rel­e­vant NQF 3 qual­i­fi­ca­tion could vol­un­teer to pro­vide ba­sic book­keep­ing ser­vices to small busi­nesses in his/her lo­cal com­mu­nity. Such vol­un­teer work is in­deed work ex­pe­ri­ence that un­locks a per­son’s first set of pro­fes­sional cre­den­tials.

De­spite the shock of a tech­ni­cal re­ces­sion, the youth still has the abil­ity to reach their pro­fes­sional dreams.

The writer says his five-cent coins have been gath­er­ing dust as no­body ap­pre­ci­ates they are still le­gal ten­der.

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