SA youth suffering due to job scarcity

SA youth suffering due to job scarcity

CREDIT: File photo

As South Africa marks Youth Day today, youth unemployment continues to climb, reaching a record 38.6%, while health practitioners have raised the alarm over the number of young people experiencing mental health illnesses and the lack of help for them

Youth Day honours the youths massacred by the apartheid police in Soweto in a protest by pupils on June 16, 1976, against the enforced use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in black schools.

Official figures were that 23 people were killed, but some reports estimated at least 200 died. The protest turned into an uprising that spread countrywide, profoundly changing the socio-political landscape of SA.

The youth unemployment rate in South Africa has increased by 1.6% since last year. About 58% of those unemployed this year were young people, aged between 15 and 24.

Stanlib chief economist Kevin Lings said: “South Africa’s labour market has failed to gain any meaningful traction over the past year with the unemployment rate, especially for the youth, remaining exceedingly high by global standards.”

He said increasing employment has to be the number one economic, political and social objective.

“It can only be resolved through a concerted and sustained effort to improve skills development, as well as encouraging private sector fixed-investment spending, business development and entrepreneurship.

Trade union United Association of South Africa spokesperson André Venter said: “After the worldwide recession in 2008, young people no longer find permanent employment and the benefits have been greatly reduced.

“Older South Africans grew up in a world where they and their parents worked for big parastatals. It was quite normal for employees to stay at one company for 35 to 40 years or even longer, taking advantage of medical aid and pension benefits.”

He also said that in the short term young people did not see the benefit of working hard for little money.

“They don’t see the necessity of work experience in creating long-term success. As a result, they tend to resign too soon to look for something ‘better’.”

He added that the poor state of the economy and the rising youth unemployment could also be attributed to poor government leadership.

The unemployment rate remained high among those with an education level lower than matric, currently at 33.1%, while the unemployment rate among graduates remained at 7.3%.

City officials said they were looking at an outcomes-based, high-impact three-year plan to get residents, especially youth, into education, training or employment opportunities.

Sectors which saw employment growth year-on-year were manufacturing, construction, and finance.

UCT department of psychiatry and mental health‘s Professor Petrus de Vries said the greatest risk to the health and well-being of the youth were mental health problems.

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