Jobs and the young: Respite for the unemployed

2012-07-21 12:34

In the face of doom and gloom regarding South Africa’s high unemployment rate, a project spearheaded by the department of labour may provide welcome relief for young jobseekers.

As Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has emphasised, job fairs will be held nationally as one initiative among a battery of measures being taken by government to alleviate youth unemployment.

Free services at jobs fairs aim to empower the unemployed with soft skills, information and face-to-face assistance in the search for placement opportunities, be they for further learning, self-employment, cooperatives, community works or public works programmes and formal employment.

Each provincial job fair will be followed by a series of similar but smaller-scale events in each of the labour department’s centres, Thusong centres and visiting points.

South Africa is not alone in this unfolding socioeconomic crisis of unemployment. The International Labour Organisation has warned recently of a “scarred” generation of young workers facing a ­dangerous mix of high unemployment, increased inactivity and precarious work in developed countries, as well as persistently high poverty in the developing world.

The Geneva-based organisation cautions that millions have completely given up looking for a job and of those who are working, more than 200 million earn less than two dollars a day.

Oliphant says there are more than 3.9 million young people in South Africa who are fast losing hope. She adds that these are the youth who are leading service delivery protests in various parts of our country and in other nations.

Meanwhile, the department of labour’s interventions to assist government to respond to its strategic priorities include the decent work country programme, public employment services supported by our active labour market institutions, and inspection and enforcement services to effectively monitor and enforce compliance with our labour legislation.

To achieve jobs growth, Oliphant says that the country’s active labour market entities, such as the Unemployment Insurance Fund, the Compensation Fund, Productivity SA, sheltered employment factories, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, and departmental programmes must work together seamlessly to make creating and keeping jobs a national priority.

A department of labour report, the Annual Labour Market Bulletin, calls for the strengthening of domestic industries like agriculture and construction so that low-skilled and semiskilled unemployed youth can be absorbed into these industries.

All social partners must pull ­together to surmount the tremendous difficulties that lie ahead.

» Zondi is media liaison officer in the office of the labour minister

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