More than nine million young people are not in education, employment or training (NEET). They face a number of obstacles on the way to finding a job or obtaining a qualification. But there are ways to start fixing this problem, a panel of experts explained this week in a webinar.
Entitled Removing Barriers to Youth Unemployment, the webinar was hosted by the Courier and tutor and Youth Capital mobilization campaign on October 28, 2021 for the launch of Youth Capital 2021 publication.
Accountant and activist Khaya Sithole, who also moderated the panel, said young people face “micro-barriers” preventing them from finding work. He said many young people depended on social security systems like children’s scholarships and free schools when they were children, and when they left school they lost that security. Some would go without any financial support or work for decades until they qualified for old age benefits, he said.
Kristal Duncan-Williams, project manager at Youth Capital, said it was expensive to look for work. She said studies show that young job seekers spend an average of R938 per month looking for work.
“So the jobs can be there, but the individuals just can’t afford (to) or can’t reach it,” she said. She encouraged the private sector to be part of the solution.
“If we don’t invest in young people now, who will be your clients in 10 or 20 years? Duncan-Williams said. Besides the economic impact of youth unemployment, there was “the wasted potential of literally thousands, millions of people across the country who have skills, creative ideas and innovative ways of thinking,” he said. she declared.
In an effort to find ways to address these issues, in 2020 Youth Capital launched the Action plan to fight against youth unemployment. Their 2021 release lays bare more frightening statistics as well as ways to improve certification rates, make job searches affordable, and make public employment work.
Only four in ten first graders will take the exam. Among those entering a higher education institution, only 60% of university students will graduate within six years. Those who enter technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges are even less likely to complete their qualifications.
“Even if you are in a poorly functioning school, you have adults who know at least more than you to whom you can turn. And often young people live in households and have friendship networks that don’t know how to navigate this post-education stage. Without social capital, they have nowhere to turn, they have no one to help them, and they have few options to help them. It’s no wonder that young people don’t even know where to start looking for a job, how to write a CV, how to appear for a job interview. These are skills that could be taught in life orientation in schools to give young people a support mechanism as they step into this nothingness, ”Duncan-Williams said.
Researcher Kiru Truman said the government has invested millions in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges. These colleges often offered valuable internships and work-integrated learning. However, there were issues.
“Currently, we are training young people for an urban environment. And it is difficult, if not impossible with people in rural areas. So where the hell do we place them? said Truman.
Sithole said many young people did not complete their qualifications, but that didn’t mean they hadn’t done anything or had no skills. Duncan-Williams said employers should not fire these people.
Leànne Viviers, founder of Mintor, said employers need to be “open-minded” and take responsibility for on-the-job training and education. “Employers shouldn’t expect the finished project to come to their doorstep,” she said.
Vivers added that business leaders, especially in small businesses, do not have time for intensive recruitment and many positions have remained vacant. She said they could tap into resources like those at Mintor and other nonprofits to help them “find the right talent.”
Waseem Carrim, director general of the National Youth Development Agency, said much progress was being made in tackling the unemployment crisis. There were a number of ongoing pilot projects that could be scaled up, he said.
“I saw the ability of job boosting to reach people on a large scale. At a cost of R11 to 12 billion, we are able to create 100,000 jobs and livelihoods for people, especially young people in South Africa. Do I think we can reach nine million public opportunities? I don’t think we can. But we can reach two or three million, ”he said.
Duncan-Williams said even small solutions can have a big impact. “Together the cumulative effect could be huge, to really start reducing those nine million NEETs and counting.” – Sarah Evans