Youth unemployment crisis in SA is 'actually catastrophic' - Minerals Council South Africa CEO

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Panel 5A discussing: Transforming and growing the economy as a constitutional imperative.
Panel 5A discussing: Transforming and growing the economy as a constitutional imperative.
  • The outgoing CEO of Minerals Council SA has described youth unemployment as "catastrophic". 
  • He was speaking at a conference on the Constitution in Midrand, Gauteng.
  • Meanwhile, the president of Not in My Name SA said there were still industries where women were paid less than their male counterparts.   

The outgoing CEO of the Minerals Council South Africa has described the youth unemployment situation in South Africa as "catastrophic".

Speaking on the second day of a national conference on the Constitution, Roger Baxter said productive employment "changes the game and gives people hope, which is what we need". 

The conference is being held under the theme "Reflections and the Road Ahead" and Baxter was part of a panel on transforming and growing the economy as a constitutional imperative.

"The youth unemployment crisis that we face is so huge that it is actually catastrophic," he said.

READ | Tourism boom helps Western Cape fill 167 000 of SA's recent job gains

"To get a young person coming to ask 'please find me employment' is a very painful thing, and in my view, if we are growing the economy at a much faster pace, we would probably generate employment.

"In my view, one of the greatest impacts that we can have in fighting poverty is not only social grants, which are important, but also getting people productive employment."

Figures that Statistics South Africa released in May last year showed unemployment was highest among those aged 15 to 24 (63.9%) and 25 to 34 years (42.1%).

A total of 3.8 million out of 10.2 million people aged 15 to 24 years were not employed, or receiving education or training.

President of Not In My Name South Africa, Siyabulela Jentile, was also part of the panel and added that gender equality was needed.

"There are many industries where women were still paid less than their male counterparts, regardless of [their] experience and age.

"As part of us holding the Constitution to account for economic growth and transformation, we need to be able to say: 'We need to also develop our female counterparts.'

"We must pay them what they [deserve]. So, we need to advocate, in all spaces that we are in, for gender equality," he said.

"Men who are in leadership positions in this country need to understand that by virtue of being born male, they are born elevated in the social hierarchy.

"It is the same as white male by virtue of being born white they are born elevated in the social hierarchy."

He added:

If we are looking for some of the ways in which we can transform and grow this economy as a constitutional imperative, we need to start committing [to a] social compact.

Meanwhile, Baxter said a lot of work had been done in the mining industry, resulting in significant transformative changes.

He said the council had a woman president and that there were 74 000 women in mining. In 1998, a woman was not permitted to work underground. Now, however, 15% of the labour force in the industry is female.

He added that they were committed to increasing the number of women to 100 000 by 2025.

"There are tangible things that we are doing," he added.

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