My life as a jobless member of Gen D

A couple of months ago I read an article in this newspaper about how widespread and indiscriminate unemployment is. Witnessing the plight of even 40-year-olds struggling to eke out a living for their families touched me.

However, seeing the bulging numbers of ­people in their 20s competing for the very same opportunities as the older generation in a market so congested that one can barely fart, effectively disheartened me.

It does not help that Dion Chang (“Meet SA’s Generation Disappointment”, City Press, October 17) has labelled my age cohorts “Generation Disappointment”.

Nor does our overly confident attitude at graduation, only to find that two years on one carries that qualification firmly in hand, still rolled up in a scroll and collecting dust.I know. I’m part of that generation. I live and breathe its challenges every waking day.

Some days I smile with hope, some days I frown with disillusionment, but mostly I suffer from ­discontent. An ailment resulting from what ­appears to be a fine line between being ­educated and not being educated.

The efforts of the South African government to smuggle thousands of undeserving and unfit learners through to the tertiary education sector is appalling at least and banal at worst.

It is a sorry case of trying to save face?– like looking good while a pungent odour escapes from ­behind you!

The problem is that this is systematically and effectively contributing towards Chang’s Generation Disappointment.

And while we wait for the golden pot at the end of the rainbow, there are hundreds of thousands of young ­people waiting with bated breath for what the magician (government) will pull out of his hat next time.

Perhaps free education might materialise should the government squeeze ­tertiary institutions enough. Ah, but what’s the use of being capitalists if we still have ­socialist hang-ups?

The article about widespread unemployment among people in their 40s remains ever so vivid, and whenever I’m out trying to find a cure for my unemployed condition, I try to keep an open mind.

This has seen me going to places I never dreamed of going – why, I just thought I’d be going right next door to the municipal ­offices with my seat ready for me. Not!

A potential “employer” once hinted that I could work at a toll gate. Say what?! There I went out the door, still carrying my precious scroll.

Next stop, a call-centre learnership. Open mind. No doubt a great opportunity for the masses not fortunate enough to obtain a junior degree, but I quit after only a day, seeing that somebody else deserved it more. I was also mad with derision after being harassed to come to “school” like I’m some teenager who does not know better. Wow.

Perhaps I might start my own contact centre. (Laughs.)Seriously, though, employment is a three-way street; a wheel that needs to turn through a collective effort and resources from the government, the private sector and the public (job seekers).

The government needs to step up in terms of infrastructure, ensuring that the economy is able – to a certain extent – to absorb suitably skilled individuals.

This is only feasible if the government refrains from contradictory policies which only serve to confuse investors.

The private sector should, in turn, invest more in human capital as the return on investment far outweighs initial investment.

Thirdly, people should also remember that they are solely responsible for their own personal growth. That includes learning something new every day, as well as exploring alternative avenues.

For now I remain unemployed, but I have a fully functional mind which is employed on a full-time basis!

» Motswatswe has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of the Witwatersrand
» If you have a job for her please contact me at ferial.haffajee@citypress.co.za

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