Youth Unemployment Continues to Rise Despite Interventions

Youth unemployment is still staggeringly high at 53.70 percent in the second quarter of 2018, an increase from 52.40 percent in the first quarter.

On Monday morning Lindiwe Zulu, South Africa’s minister of Small Business Development spoke on the government’s effort to create jobs on eNCA to tackle youth unemployment.

The minister emphasised the importance of small businesses as a driver for job creation and empowering the youth to be self-sufficient.

Undoubtedly, the role of small businesses and cooperatives in tackling unemployment creates an economic value to our country’s GDP and to addressing the increasingly ticking time bomb that is unemployment.

Last week the government hosted a two-day jobs summit aimed at addressing some of the pressing needs that are currently affecting the country’s youth, particularly when it comes to skills development, access to funds for training and the drive to actualise the support for small and medium enterprises (SMMEs).

Youth Unemployment Continues To Rise Despite Government Intervention

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the job summit was an important process heading towards the International Investment Conference that will take place later this month. Ramaphosa also said the inter-relatedness of both summits would  inspire confidence in business by showcasing that the government has “come up with more than 70 interventions that we are going to embark on to create jobs, strengthen the economy and lead our economy towards the recovery path.”

Whilst the government keeps on devising new strategies to drive employment to manage the impact that this has on our economy, SA’s youth needs more than job summits and workshops around transformation. The youth need upskilling and a sustainable development plan that will ensure that their lives are improved to bring about a more just and equal society.

The first way to do this? Actually give the youth a seat at the table, and hear from them what their grievances are. Secondly, businesses should be encouraged to stop letting people go through retrenchments, instead of encouraging for more job creation (which invariably ends up being a short-term strategy). If more businesses retained their staff and upskilled them and manage change effectively, one half of the problem will be dealt with.

As it stands, youth unemployment is still staggeringly high at 53.70 percent in the second quarter of 2018, having increased from 52.40 percent in the first quarter of 2018. This is bigger than just creation, it is about transforming society and in essence creating sustainable solutions to the country’s economic value creation.

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What should the government be doing?

Our government should also be thinking about solutions-based strategies around labour legislation, inequality and socio-economic factors that hold employees back in the workplace – beyond the creation of jobs. We need to be cognizant of internal transformation within organisations in various sectors separate to the broader socio-economic advantage to transformative policy recommendation.

There needs to be an established culture of workers’ rights that are intersectional and inclusive of all. This means that the entities which fund entrepreneurial initiatives such the President’s Youth Employment Service (YES campaign), and institutions such as the  National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), the Industrial Corporation Development (IDC) and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) need to ensure that these dreams are actualised and that there is clear and transparent communication around funding and access to funds.

The fact of the matter is that the problem is systemic and there needs to be an accelerated effort to see these aspirations actualised.

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