Lock­down hits SA youth

Sur­vey re­veals salary cuts and in­creas­ing anx­i­ety about job se­cu­rity

Cape Argus - - METRO - MTHUTHUZEL­I NTSEKU mthuthuzel­i.ntseku@inl.co.za

A SUR­VEY by the Youth Em­ploy­ment Ser­vices (YES) re­vealed that 43% of youth em­ployed over the past 12 months were earn­ing less than what they earned be­fore the Covid-19 cri­sis.

Many re­spon­dents said their in­come was cut by over half since the out­break of the pan­demic in March.

The sur­vey fur­ther re­vealed that job se­cu­rity was among their main con­cerns and that they were un­sure about keep­ing their jobs dur­ing lock­down.

YES chief ex­ec­u­tive Tesh­mia Is­mail-Sav­ille said some of the eco­nomic find­ings of the sur­vey were fright­en­ing.

“About 85% were us­ing their salaries to sup­port more ex­tended fam­i­lies, neigh­bours and friends, while over 40% had fam­ily mem­bers who had lost jobs and were not sure whether they would get them back. “These youths’ jobs and salaries were im­por­tant in their house­holds,” she said.

Of the youth sur­veyed, two out of three said they were de­pressed and over 67% said they were highly anx­ious about their sit­u­a­tion.

“We al­ways look at the eco­nom­ics of the sit­u­a­tion but the per­son’s mind­set in the work world is as im­por­tant. When you have mil­lions of youths who are sad and de­pressed, this has an im­por­tant im­pact on our so­ci­ety.

“We have seen with cor­po­rate SA and with many of our em­ploy­ees that there is a lot of ex­haus­tion and anx­i­ety com­ing in,” said Is­mail-Sav­ille.

A sim­i­lar sur­vey con­ducted by Lucha Lu­nako from the Bertha Cen­tre for So­cial In­no­va­tion and En­trepreneur­ship found that many young peo­ple had had to bor­row money to survive, with a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber plunged deeper into un­em­ploy­ment.

About 30% of young peo­ple said they had lost money be­cause of the lock­down with 28% ad­mit­ting to hav­ing bor­rowed money as a re­sult, putting them deeper into debt.

A to­tal of 32% said their fi­nances had been im­pacted be­cause they could not go out to look for work.

Lucha Lu­nako co-founder Alana Bond said this re­vealed that many young peo­ple were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing more fi­nan­cial chal­lenges. There was a need to ac­knowl­edge that young peo­ple were fac­ing a dis­pro­por­tion­ately more un­cer­tain fu­ture than those who had had the time to develop skills and start their ca­reers.

Bertha Cen­tre di­rec­tor Solange Rosa said the sur­vey was of sig­nif­i­cance as it re­vealed how the virus was im­pact­ing South African youth, an ex­tremely vul­ner­a­ble seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion.

She said the pan­demic had ag­gra­vated a youth un­em­ploy­ment cri­sis that has hit the coun­try hard.

Is­mail-Sav­ille said dur­ing the lock­down there was a huge drop in regis­tra­tion by com­pa­nies, pre­vent­ing young peo­ple from gain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence over a 12-month pe­riod. How­ever, com­pa­nies were now in­ter­ested in em­ploy­ing young peo­ple again.

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