Un­em­ploy­ment woes for SA youth

Youth Month noth­ing more than a road show

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - ZINTLE MAHLATI @ZintleMahlati

WHILE the young peo­ple of 1976 fought against Afrikaans as a medium of teach­ing, to­day’s youth say their cru­cial strug­gle is crawl­ing their way out of un­em­ploy­ment.

The sit­u­a­tion is so dire that some, like 26-year-old ac­count­ing grad­u­ate *Di­neo Mahlangu, feel like they might never be able to get a job, es­pe­cially in these tough eco­nomic times.

Last week, Stat­sSA re­vealed that the coun­try’s un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures had risen to 27.7% in the first quar­ter of 2017 – the high­est since 2003.

It said of the 433 000 job seek­ers in the first quar­ter, 58% were young peo­ple be­tween the ages of 15 to 34 years.

This has brought the youth un­em­ploy­ment rate to 38.6%, ac­cord­ing to Stat­sSA.

Mahlangu said when she reads such stag­ger­ing num­bers she feels dis­cour­aged and hope­less.

“When I see that un­em­ploy­ment has in­creased, I lose hope. It just means that I will spend the next cou­ple of years with­out a job,” said Mahlangu, who has been look­ing for a job for two years.

She has laid the blame on the gov­ern­ment’s door-step, say­ing many of the jobs in gov­ern­ment and in the pri­vate sec­tor were open only for rel­a­tives and friends mak­ing it even harder for some to en­ter the job mar­ket.

She be­lieved that when she de­cided to go to study fur­ther af­ter com­pet­ing high school, she thought do­ing so would make it eas­ier for her, but it has not.

“I ac­tu­ally thought that my qual­i­fi­ca­tion would en­able me to get a bet­ter job. Now I feel like it’s the same thing whether you went to school or not it doesn’t mat­ter as there are no jobs in this coun­try,” said Mahlangu.

She said for her, Youth Month seemed like a onemonth side show.

Dur­ing this month many pre­tend to care about young peo­ple, she added.

Pub­lic Re­la­tions grad­u­ate Phumzile Mthethwa, 23, shared sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments of her job woes.

“I had this plan you know that af­ter grad­u­at­ing, I will get a job for sure. But af­ter­wards I re­alised that this was not go­ing to be easy, it’s stress­ful. I thought I would get a job be­cause I worked re­ally hard in my school work and I thought com­pa­nies would be will­ing to hire me be­cause of that,” said Mthethwa.

She has turned to open­ing her own busi­ness of pro­vid­ing nail care ser­vices, but says find­ing fund­ing was just as hard.

“There is no clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion in how the gov­ern­ment is tack­ling the un­em­ploy­ment is­sue.

“You are of­ten pushed from one cor­ner to an­other. I don’t even have the funds to help with ac­cess to youth op­por­tu­ni­ties,” she said.

For Tshidi Mokoena, 24, the strug­gle is dif­fer­ent as she only has a ma­tric.

She could not af­ford to study fur­ther af­ter ma­tric­u­lat­ing.

She said her hopes of rais­ing her young 2-year-old daugh­ter bet­ter than she was raised have been halted by be­ing un­em­ployed.

“Now I have to ap­ply for a grant to feed my child when I could be able to earn money... that’s not right. The gov­ern­ment has failed us and it does not seem like they have a plan to help. When I think of Youth Day cel­e­bra­tions I don’t see the need to cel­e­brate be­cause my life hasn’t changed. I’m still where I was years ago,” said Mokoena.

Some ex­perts be­lieve the de­spon­dency among un­em­ployed youth was due to a com­bi­na­tion of pol­icy weak­nesses and an un­equal ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

Pa­trick Mashanda, pro­gramme di­rec­tor at Ikamva, a youth based or­gan­i­sa­tion, said his or­gan­i­sa­tion of­ten dealt with young peo­ple from poor back­grounds who could not find em­ploy­ment so they help equip them with much needed skills.

An­other is­sue was that many were not equipped with valu­able skills to as­sist them once they had ma­tric­u­lated.

He said the gov­ern­ment needed to im­ple­ment strin­gent goals and plans on how to tackle un­em­ploy­ment.

“We need con­sis­tent pro­grammes that can ac­tively help young peo­ple and not ones done just for head count. We (Ikamva) help by con­nect­ing the youth to uni­ver­si­ties and pro­vid­ing them with train­ing needed once they look for em­ploy­ment,” said Mashanda.

Wits Pro­fes­sor Pa­trick Bond said some of the so­lu­tions that have been in­tro­duced by the gov­ern­ment have done lit­tle to tackle the grow­ing prob­lem of un­em­ploy­ment – es­pe­cially pro­grammes such as the Ex­tended Pub­lic Works Pro­grammes in­tro­duced across many mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. *Names has been changed

DES­PER­A­TION: An un­em­ployed man holds a self-made ad­ver­tis­ing board of­fer­ing his ser­vices as youth un­em­ploy­ment is at a record high.

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