News & Media

Youth unemployment in SA - the curse and the solution

It is with great sadness and pain that I pen this article to all South Africans, telling them of a matter which they already know of, the youth unemployment crisis. And my worry is that those in power are too “preoccupied” with very important meetings, spar treatments, gala dinners, and of course looting government resources meant for the poor. They are too busy with their commitments to notice the damage being done to us, the young people and the youth of this country.

Government’s noisy rhetoric on its initiatives aimed at bettering the lives of the youth is like popular deep house beats with no lyrics. They adopt policies after policies with no clear implementation strategy and no evidence showing whether the so-called initiatives are bearing fruits in the lives of the youth.

South Africa is failing to improve the lives of its youth, leaving them exposed to catastrophic activities such drug abuse, prostitution, criminal activities and absolute poverty. The high unemployment rate is at its highest peak and continues to increase as economic growth fails to improve. Our country is embarrassingly failing to acknowledge the significance of economically empowering the youth, if they cared, they would surely do something to change their actions and direct their energy towards finding lasting solutions to this challenge.

Around 3.3 million of the youth in South Africa are unemployed, although some may be hopeful in breaking the cycle unemployment, others will most definitely not make it. This means that thousands of the youth will resort to extreme harmful measures in efforts to try and make a living, they will go as far as stealing, if not killing for basic material things such as a smart cell-phone. This number will add to the criminals who terrorise our people in our cities, townships and villages.

An article written by Ariana De Lannoy indicated that “life’s chances are determined by the quality of education”, many share the same sentiment including myself. However, in the few past years, this has become quite an opposite as young graduates find it hard to become part of the active economic population of this country. Their uneducated peers tease and make fun of them for remaining in the same standard as them, even after having studied and graduated in colleges and universities. Basically, there is a very thin line between an unemployed graduate and someone who is not a graduate as they are all economically broke and unemployed.

Every parent’s wish is to see their children do well academically and for their kids to find proper employment, but when all fails, a feeling of loss and disorientation take its toll and a sense of hope fades. Youths from poor or low-income families are more likely to suffer the most as they deal with the effects of unemployment, anxiety and depression overcome them as they struggle to crack the labour market and have the means to support themselves and their families.

South Africa’s economic growth depends on political solutions.

The solution

  • A Commission of enquiry into unemployment

A commission must be established; the commission must be tasked with a responsibility to determine the unemployment causes, challenges and find solutions to the problems. The commission must provide direction into finding long-lasting solutions to youth unemployment, with the help of policymakers, models must be developed and a monitoring system should be set up to ensure implementation of the policies and models developed. The commission must consist of scholars, economists, traditional, religious and political leaders and youth representatives.

  • Economic growth

South Africa’s economic growth depends on political solutions. Failure by the government led by the ANC to tackle corruption in government and State-Owned Enterprises undoubtedly causes economic decline, political instability and lack of trust in the government by investors. This means that there is very little willingness to address the state of corruption by government officials that continue to plunder resources meant for economic development of the youth and the people of South Africa.

  • Amendment of the constitution

Social transformation cannot be fully realised without an amendment of the constitution to allow for a true untwisted economic prosperity, equality and justice for all. Particularly on the debate around the expropriation of land without compensation. Such amendments must be made with a clear vision to create a healthy economic environment, build industries and create jobs for the youth.

  • Local industries

Local manufacturing companies must be built and local products must be promoted. Imported goods that can be locally produced must be reduced to support the local environment. This must be done with a goal to strengthen the local industry and to ensure job creation.

Macroeconomic policies targeting youth employment must not be reduced to mere rhetoric, willingness and action from all parties must be seen and felt by those affected. We all have a responsibility to pursue the question of who is failing the economy and the youth.

We must always be in search of answers to the challenges we face, we must know who presides over our government, departments and all other economic sectors which continuously fail the youth.

*By Thabo Makwakwa | 2017-11-01 03:59 SAST

This article first appeared in the Huffington Post and is used by permission. You can read the original article here.

Thabo Makwakwa is Unisa’s Gauteng RSRC Undergraduate Officer and Deputy Chairperson of the Gauteng Economic Freedom Fighters Student’ Command.