Unemployment woes for SA youth
Youth Month nothing more than a road show
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.