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The rise of South Africa's joblessness rate.

- Gift Lubele -

· Opinions


Its been three to four years of constant battle, sleepless nights accompanied by remembrance of where you come from and prodigious dreams of what life has in store for you after your big day cut short by annoying early morning alarms that reminded you of an upcoming test or examination. Your close friends, distant family all there, faces painted with happiness, eyes glowing with tears of joy and memories of what it took for you to finish, to get that one thing that offers a secured life, It is your graduation day.

This feeling is what 26% of South African graduates who finish their degrees on time experience, or 40% of students who complete their degree a year after — filled with hope, a sense of achievement and big plans of working in big companies or starting the next GAFA company ( Google, Apple, Facebook and or Amazon). The reality, however, might be less rosy as a report from the Brookings Institution, first covered by The Economist, makes it clear.

“Median wealth among millennials in 2016 was lower than among similarly aged cohorts in any year from 1989 to 2007,” when the Great Recession hit, the report says. “Median wealth among millennials was about 25% lower in 2016 than among similarly-aged households in 2007.” So, it is harder than ever to become financially free, let alone a millionaire. But Why?

  •    A rise in educated millennials = An increase in debt 

How many people do you know in your circle who have graduated and are still struggling to pay off their student debt? I think the idea of college/university graduation should be granted less credit; we need to teach more young people how to be successful after college and celebrate that. The hype of graduating has caused many families to use almost everything they have to put young people in colleges/universities with the hope that after finishing school a good job waits. While in fact, more graduates are finding it hard to find employment, let alone posts that make them happy financially and emotionally. This year the graduate unemployment rate was 31,0% during this period compared to 19,5% in the 4th quarter of 2018 – an increase of 11,4 percentage points quarter-on-quarter.

  • From traditional Skills to 21st-century skills
In South Africa, the top courses studied are Education, Business & Economics, Agriculture, communications/ journalism, and engineering. Although these courses are great and necessary, there is not a direct need of the employer, in fact, according to Linkedin the top hard skills needed by companies in 2019 are Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Analytical Reasoning, People Management, UX Design, Mobile Application Development, video production and many more. More people need to align and teach themselves skills of the future. Employers are continually looking for young people to hire, but the mismatch of skills keeps growing.

All this and the majority of the 55.2% of unemployed youth are don't have a matric/grade 12. This is where I think Youth Entrepreneurship comes in. Recently Marnus (An established South African Entrepreneur) asked if the South African system is failing us, and here is my response," I am a massive believer in collaboration, so here are my ideas. 1. I think big businesses should consider now more than ever, helping and training retrenched employees to venture into entrepreneurship. Fifteen corporates in South Africa employ more than 1 million people, and a significant amount of people working at these companies have lost their jobs over the years. 2. Big companies should start thinking about ways of introducing practical entrepreneurial programs to be used as part of their success metric and not CSI initiatives. I refer to big business often because of the influence and power they have over our economy, although we have many young people trying to start their own business, I am not entirely convinced that they alone can bring about the massive change especially looking at the shocking failure stats in early-stage small business. 3. The challenge of youth unemployment is not only the responsibility of the government or company alone, but it also requires every stakeholder to do act, innovative, collaborative actions are needed hence public schools should strongly consider introducing a practical entrepreneurial learning lesson where students will run in real life business."

This is not even close to a perfect solution due to the complexity of the challenge.

This is the South African Youth Status, and I am ready to change it to the better. Let's join forces, let us take action, and eradicate youth unemployment. If you have a position available for young people, share it using the hashtag #PermanentJob lets do what we can with what we have.

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