Empowerment initiatives offer hope to SA’s youth
Youth Month is being celebrated in South Africa this year under the theme, “Promoting sustainable livelihoods and resilience of young people for a better tomorrow”.
The month of June is dedicated exclusively to issues affecting the youth of South Africa, including but not limited to unemployment, which has been described many times as “a ticking time bomb”.
National Youth Development Agency executive chairperson, Asanda Luwaca, spoke about the mainstreaming of youth development across all areas of government, the private sector, business and civil society.
Youth empowerment requires collective responsibility and to achieve that, all sectors must report on their programmes incorporating youth development, she said.
“I am strongly of the view that we no longer as a country have the luxury to just talk about youth development, but have the collective responsibility to make sure it is tangible,” she added.
The Quarterly Labour Force Survey by Stats SA which was released on May 31 made for grim reading. It showed that South Africa’s youth continues to bear the burden of unemployment and remain disadvantaged in the labour market.
About a quarter (24.4%) of the youth have jobs and 45.3% of them participate in the labour market with only 244 000 gaining employment in the first quarter of the year.
The survey stated that the unemployment rate for those aged 15-24 was 63.9% and 42.1% for those aged 25-34 years while the official national unemployment rate is sitting at 34%.
Youth have been struck particularly hard by record-high unemployment rates in several countries in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic. As a result, many young people have been unable to find jobs, while others have completely abandoned the labour market and become “inactive”.
Although several variables contribute to youth unemployment including population growth, a lack of experience, inadequate job search strategies and a lack of career advice in schools, South Africa’s unemployment rate for first-time job seekers is still unacceptably high.
Our economy, society and democracy should be powered by young South Africans, but why is this not happening? Maybe because combating youth unemployment necessitates a long-term strategy that is well-coordinated.
For youth to establish themselves in the labour market and achieve self-sufficiency, they must engage in work, school or training. With more young people out of work, encouraging youth entrepreneurship is a viable choice for South Africa. One of the ways of doing this is to offer bursaries to young entrepreneurs to help graduate a large number of them into higher skills levels.
The Wits Entrepreneurship Clinic was launched last month as a response to South Africa’s alarming youth unemployment rate. About 40% of graduates aged 15-24 and 15% of graduates from 25-34 are unemployed.
The clinic will train and guide budding entrepreneurs as they go through the process of starting a firm. Its goal is to increase the role of universities in the entrepreneurial ecosystem so that young entrepreneurs can become future job creators and economic growth drivers in Africa.
It is predicted that by 2050, sub-Saharan Africa’s youth population will double to more than 830 million, creating unparalleled prospects for entrepreneurship and innovation.
The Gauteng provincial government is also doing its bit. It is addressing youth unemployment with its Tshepo 1 million initiative. The programme is aimed at unemployed Gauteng citizens aged 18-34 who have completed at least Grade 10, as well as first-time job seekers with limited work experience.
This youth skills empowerment initiative aims to break down the barriers facing young people when looking for work. It helps them develop their skills, get work and start their own businesses.
INSITE by MTS provides deeper insights into your workforce demographics and skills requirements to guide your career and skills development programmes. Visit www.mts.co.za to find out more about our offerings.