Job­less­ness casts a shadow


AS SOUTH Africa marks Youth Day, ques­tions have arisen re­gard­ing the con­tin­ued high level of youth un­em­ploy­ment in the coun­try.

The United As­so­ci­a­tion of SA (Uasa), one of sev­eral unions af­fil­i­ated to the Fed­er­a­tion of Trade Unions of South Africa (Fe­dusa), ex­plained that de­spite the down­grade to junk sta­tus and the coun­try’s nose­dive to­wards a full-blown re­ces­sion, there are ad­di­tional rea­sons why so many young peo­ple re­main un­em­ployed.

“Older South Africans grew up in a world where they and their par­ents worked for huge paras­tatals like the rail­ways, Is­cor and Arm­scor,” said Uasa spokesper­son An­dre Ven­ter.

“It was quite nor­mal for em­ploy­ees to stay at one com­pany for 35, 40 years or longer, while tak­ing ad­van­tage of great med­i­cal aid and pen­sion ben­e­fits.

“Af­ter the world­wide re­ces­sion in 2008, the pic­ture changed con­sid­er­ably – young peo­ple no longer find per­ma­nent em­ploy­ment as a mat­ter of fact, and the ben­e­fits were greatly re­duced,” he said.

Statis­tics show that in South Africa, the sit­u­a­tion is no bet­ter, and even worse than many other places.

“Some fig­ures peg youth un­em­ploy­ment for job seek­ers be­tween 18 and 24 years old as high as 48%.

“This means al­most one out of two are un­em­ployed,” Ven­ter ex­plained.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search by en­try-level em­ploy­ment re­cruiters Lu­l­away, there is a sur­plus of en­try-level jobs at any given time, and there are not enough strate­gic re­sources which are ded­i­cated to en­sur­ing job longevity.

“The re­search shows that younger em­ploy­ees have the poor­est job longevity, and as they have min­i­mal fi­nan­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, they lack the re­silience to push through the ini­tial chal­lenges of en­try-level em­ploy­ment, which tends to be me­nial, phys­i­cally gru­elling and of­fers lit­tle re­turn.

“They com­plete their ter­tiary stud­ies with the ex­pec­ta­tion of a well-paid job and don’t un­der­stand you must start at the bot­tom and work your way up,” he em­pha­sised.

Ven­ter said although hard work and tal­ent were quickly no­ticed, one needed work ex­pe­ri­ence, no mat­ter how me­nial and low-pay­ing the job was ini­tially.

Ini­tia­tives have been rolled out to men­tor young peo­ple in en­try-level em­ploy­ment and to en­cour­age them to per­sist. Ven­ter stressed to en­sure em­ploy­ment over the next decade or so, school leavers must give their cho­sen ca­reers se­ri­ous thought.

“A quick in­ter­net search shows pre­dic­tions are that by 2020, the Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion will have brought us ad­vanced ro­bot­ics and au­ton­o­mous trans­port, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and ma­chine learn­ing, ad­vanced ma­te­ri­als, biotech­nol­ogy and ge­nomics that will trans­form the way we live and work.

“Some jobs will dis­ap­pear, oth­ers will grow and jobs that don’t ex­ist to­day will be­come com­mon­place,” he said.

“The youth un­em­ploy­ment ques­tion can only be solved when South Africa has a de­cent lead­er­ship corps in place and we, as cit­i­zens, learn to work to­gether,” Ven­ter added.


Young face bat­tle to hold on to jobs and climb lad­der

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