Unemployment is increasingly becoming a challenging task to manage across the globe, even worse for South Africa. During the last quarter of 2019, Statistics SA revealed a report that the unemployment rate in South Africa has seen the worst decline since 2008, with a percentage of 29.1 and remaining unchanged well into the year 2020. Statistics SA’s research shows that over 30 percent of youth aged 15 to 34 are not employed and are not involved in any kind of training programmes.
And to add to that, according to the Centre for Development report, in the last quarter of 2018, 3,9 million young people reported having looked for work but being unable to find it.
This tells a harrowing story about how the labour market is set up. It is inundated with an influx of graduates who seek employment with no available positions, mostly because the economy is not growing fast enough to be able to create new job opportunities.
Millions of new graduates now face the difficult and tedious task of desperately competing for job opportunities and ensuring that they keep them once they acquire them. It’s particularly hard for youth who come from disadvantaged backgrounds with limited access to job searching resources, such as transportation and data, due to the costs of these resources. There’s little to zero formal support and investments channelled into addressing the challenges faced by these types of graduates who live on a hand-to-mouth basis.
The lack of experience and skills
On the other hand, many employers also face the biggest challenges where graduates in the job search market often lack the experience and skills needed to fulfil some of the available roles. This makes it difficult for them to absorb the graduates into these roles.
The report also points out that large numbers of work-seekers come from families where no one holds a full-time and formal sector job, which results in the lack of workplace skills and aptitudes required to thrive in a formal work sector. It also paints a picture about how graduates are also often ill-informed or lack full information about what kinds of jobs are available, for which jobs their skills and aptitudes are best suited, or how to maximise their chances of finding one.
This setback makes it harder for both the graduates and employers to connect in order to create mutual solutions. While other graduates challenge themselves and chase entrepreneurship, they still struggle to access the right information and support related to running their businesses. The lack of experience and skills as entrepreneurs work as a huge disadvantage to their efforts.
Interventions and programmes to help create youth jobs
Youth unemployment in South Africa has been declared as a national crisis. This is the reason why the work the Development Bank of Southern Africa’s (DBSA) does in the education sector is important. The Bank procures funds which are channelled towards the development of infrastructure in the education sector. The availability of classrooms and other education-resources allows learning for individuals who didn’t have such opportunities.
We have also launched a competition titled the DBSA Youth Challenge. It is aimed at getting young people aged 18 to 35-years-old in South Africa to come up with solutions to some of South Africa’s infrastructure challenges. The winning submissions will attract a total of R1.5 million in prize money, which they can use to start a business or further their studies. Essentially, this cash can be used to help them reach whatever they need to change their lives.
We see the competition as an opportunity for young people to have a voice and participate in the economy. With technology making it possible to change the way services are delivered, the development institution believes there is room for more young people to get involved in finding innovative solutions to infrastructure problems that will directly influence their future and shift the course of their lives.
The power to help
Other businesses also can get involved in helping with youth development jobs in South Africa. This can be done through intervention and innovative programmes designed to help the youth gain the training, skills, experience and overall professional development needed in order for them to gain access to the workforce. In the end, we all have the power to do our part in helping the youth with jobs.