Workshop held to assist the youth with their future

2015-07-01 06:05
Some of the youth at the Masharps College workshop.

Some of the youth at the Masharps College workshop.

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AS Youth Month draws to an end, we have to reflect on what has been done and said about the youth.

It is during the month of June where all those responsible for or care about youth matters get the opportunity to recite their views on youth.

What is generally missing in the discourse about the youth, is the youth themselves. Rarely do you find the youth attending events that are meant to inform and guide them, unless there is some element of entertainment. That implies attendance to such events is more for entertainment than receiving or giving constructive messages. However, this seems to have changed recently when the youth from Umvoti municipality and surrounding areas, such as Maphumulo, attended a Youth Development Workshop on 11 June, hosted and facilitated by Masharps College in Kranskop.

At the workshop speakers among the youth were vocal and specific about what needs to be done by the youth and for the youth. At 19,5 million the youth constitute the largest section of our population and yet their unemployment rate is the highest at 36.1% (2014), which is even worse than in 2008 (32,7%) when the global economic slowdown was at its peak.

This decline in youth employment continues and the prospects are not getting any better, given the economic growth forecast for this financial year which remains below two percent. KwaZulu-Natal has a youthful labour force but it is worrying that 44.1% of its youth remain unemployed. While the youth recognises there are government structures dedicated to youth matters, primarily the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and programmes within all spheres of government, the youth continue to face immense challenges.

Such challenges include unemployment, lack of skills, access to basic facilities, lack of information and related technologies. Programmes designed to benefit the youth end up being abused or exploited by undeserving people. Rural youth are the most vulnerable and generally are at bottom of the priority list.

Rural development and youth empowerment are popular in theory, but not so fashionable in action. Despite all these challenges the youth of Umvoti and neighbouring municipalities resolved to become champions of their own destiny. This they would do by galvanising themselves into action instead of lamenting their situation in despair.

At a practical level, they undertook to become more visible at government offices which are responsible for youth matters and programmes. They would actively participate in government programmes as and when they are announced, they would also go out and seek information through various methods, including the internet and tol-free numbers. Realising that without skills they are not easily employable and therefore they would seek every assistance possible in acquiring skills.

They were thankful that Masharps College took the initiative and championed the cause of the youth through computer skills training and hosting such informative workshops. While this is regarded as a good start, a lot still needs to be done to harness the energies of the youth. They believe that schools and government offices, especially in rural areas, need to be equipped with internet facilities with a free WiFi network. This would enable them to access services such as vacancy bulletins, business opportunities and apply for bursaries to study further. They requested Masharps College, preferably in local government, to invite NYDA officials to address them so they will have a good sense of what is available for the youth.

It was also resolved at the workshop that their plans for development will not be hampered or distracted by anti-social behaviour and practices such as substance abuse, teenage pregnancy and abuse of alcohol. They identified these behaviours as key distractions which slow down their progress. They concluded that the youth should not abdicate their responsibility for self-development and seeking information, but equally government and the private sector should be more accommodating, supportive and receptive to youth aspirations.

- Dr Moses Khanyile managing director, Masharps College

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