Race-based policies prevented me from getting a job

Alex Weiss
Alex Weiss

Name: Alex Weiss

Age: 23

Occupation: Unemployed*

(*At time of writing although I have a job offer though not officially employed.)

Cyril Ramaphosa is a populist and contradictory speaker. On the one hand he wants young white people to stay in the country but on the other hand leads a party that endorses race-based policies which undermine merit and equal opportunities of races. According to some statistics provided by Stats SA, in 2018:

1. The percentage growth in employment was:

- Blacks: 1.2%

- Coloureds: 5.2%

- Indians: 4.0%

- Whites: - 3.4% 

2. Dependency on the employed grew by:

- Blacks: + 1.5

- Coloureds: -3.9%

- Indians: -1.8%

- Whites: + 7.5%

In the 15 - 24 age group, whites comprise 5,3% of the population.

I was born in 1995 – a born-free. I went to two fantastic former Model-C schools in the northern suburbs of the cosmopolitan Johannesburg. In my final year at primary school I was one of six white children with a student body of over 500 learners. At high school, the student body was less than 10% white of around 700 students. Most of my close friends went to university. One (Indian) is doing his accounting articles at PWC and my best friend (black) is doing his law articles at a firm in Melrose Arch. 

Because of the current state of our economy (mostly due to poor government policy and state looting) the job market is tough. I have been unemployed for the past seven months since graduating with an Honour's degree last year. Job hunting can be demotivating at the best of times, although it is even more so when applying for a job that has employment equity requirements.

My brother and I have seen positions for which we would have been suited, if based on merit. This is what we’ve encountered:

- "The current round of advertisements is only open to South African black candidates"

- "Only black (i.e. African, Indian, Coloured) South African citizens are eligible"

- "Employment Equity candidates are strongly advised to apply"

- "Preference will be given to PDI (previously disadvantaged individuals)/HDSA (historically disadvantaged South Africans)”

After seven months of job seeking I have luckily landed a job, not in South Africa, but rather in Mozambique. I have applied for plenty of positions in South Africa and have been unlucky to not get one. This week I will be attending my graduation ceremony along with hundreds of other graduates – black and white. There is no differentiation between the qualifications that all of us receive. Yet, I have to compete with racial employment equity targets, part of which has left me with no choice than to undertake employment outside of the borders of my beloved homeland.

I do not want to leave, but in a competitive job market with employment equity targets I have had no other choice. If Ramaphosa was serious about keeping white South Africans here, a great point of departure would be to revise race-based policies and programs. Including white South Africans as an after-thought in the Yes4Youth program does little to reassure them that there is "room for all of us to play a role".

Furthermore, removing bureaucratic barriers and fostering a business-friendly environment for start-ups would go a long way. Until then however, I will be watching from afar, on the shores Mozambique.

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