Are we youthfully useless?

2012-11-01 08:01

{a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?lang=en&search_source=search_form&version=llv1&anyorall=all&safesearch=1&searchterm=black+and+white+youth+group&search_group=&orient=&search_cat=&searchtermx=&photographer_name=&people_gender=&people_age=&people_ethnicity=&people_number=&commercial_ok=&color=&show_color_wheel=1#id=57856141&src=57bba7f50b910ddbe62fcf584afa5183-1-25"}Are the youth useless? (Shutterstock.com){/a}

You go through high school and are told that you need to apply to varsity to study further towards your chosen career path. In fact, many high schools even offer you career guidance. Career guidance is meant to help guide students in the right direction by listing sectors that are currently experiencing skills shortages in the country and helping students pick or choose which ones they think would suit them.

But what happens when you’ve completed your studies and can’t find a job in your chosen field? There is only so much funding a student can get to study from banks, loan facilitators or government.

“South Africa’s unemployment rate dropped to 24.9% in the second quarter of 2012,” Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) reported in its latest quarterly labour force survey.

With four million unemployed people in this country, it seems as though more and more people are settling for any jobs they can get that will bring in some sort of income, regardless of whether they’re in their field or not. We are told to dream big, told that we can become whatever we want, but the reality is that’s not always the case. At least not in this country, with its “struggling” economy.

We live in a country where majority of the youth are unemployed, where companies would much rather hire someone with five years’ experience instead of investing in young people. How can you post a job opportunity with the title “Entry-level” and a few lines down say; “Need three years’ experience”? Where is the logic in that?

There are so many companies willing to take on interns, but permanent employees? Well, that’s where we fall short, it could be because of the economy and recession, but people spend so much time being interns; how many internships does someone need to do before companies are willing to take them on as permanent staff members? Is it a situation of management being concerned about being “dethroned” by juniors because they’re generally hungrier and have more energy?

The sad thing about all of this is that it seems bigger companies aren’t willing to invest in the youth on a permanent scale. HR personnel would much rather hire someone who has been in the industry for years, clearly forgetting that they were once in the same position and that someone decided to give them a chance. How else are the youth supposed to get the required experience when no-one is willing to open the door to let them in to gain and learn the relevant experience, which is always being asked for in the first place?

If the people who are expected to invest in South Africa’s youth aren’t doing so, then what hope do our young people have of contributing to the economy and making waves in their chosen career paths?

New graduates with no work experience apply for jobs and are told that by having a diploma/degree they’re over qualified. How? Where are new graduates supposed to get experience if NO companies are willing to TRAIN AND INVEST in these new graduates? If companies just want people with experience, if that's all they're looking for, then where are new graduates supposed to find jobs?

This makes NO sense to me, maybe because I’ve experienced being unemployed and felt the frustration that comes with looking for work. In this country looking for a job is a job in itself. It seems as though more and more companies want to hire people with experience but aren't willing to train juniors and allow them to accumulate the necessary experience.

With things like having your own car being essential for most job posts these days, it’s a bit frustrating for most of my peers. Since when does someone not having a car mean they’re incapable of doing the job? So most people won’t apply because they feel that’s already a bad reflection on them. So why would I as a young person take a chance and apply for a position when I know I don’t meet all the requirements?

It’s no wonder so many people end up venturing into other career paths completely on the opposite end of the spectrum from what they’ve studied. Well, you also get those who choose to venture into the criminal side of things, and it’s rather unfortunate that that’s even an option at all.

There is a sense of desperation amongst my peers to make things work for themselves; those who do venture into starting their own companies don’t receive as much help as they’d like. Then when we do get young people who do start something like selling vegetables or fruit or airtime on the pavement in city streets the metro police confiscate their goods due to lack of a permit to sell those goods, bare in mind that this person is trying to feed him or herself through this minuscule venture to thus avoid being a beggar or homeless. So I ask, does the city’s mayor – or whoever decides to mandate the metro police with the task of removing the street hawkers from our city streets – contemplate those who have this as their only means of income to support their family? Here’s another question, is our environment conducive enough to encourage entrepreneurship amongst the youth?

Before you answer the last question think about the NYDA (National Youth Development Agency), do you know anyone who has been helped by the NYDA? Sadly I don’t, nor do my immediate friends. So I hereby ask another question. What’s the purpose of the NYDA if you aren’t politically linked? As far as I know (please correct me if I’m wrong) the NYDA or Umsobomvu, as it was previously known, has a mandate to help the youth start their own companies through funding and mentoring and subsequently create employment opportunities, but they are failing dismally at executing their mandate.

So when people aren’t prepared to invest in you either as an employee or as a businessman or businesswoman what do you do? Who is looking out for the youth of this country?

Itumeleng Maredi (@WiituM) said something interesting to me about her life since her mom has passed, “The GEPF gives me an orphans allowance of R702 every month, given that both my parents are late, I'll assume that with that, I have to pay tuition, accommodation, and feed myself. It’s been 3 years and within the 3 years my tuition alone has been over R120 000. The point I'm trying to raise is that how many government employees leave enough for their kids to go to school? How many sustain themselves with the R702! Yet our very own president gets an allowance for his personal legal costs? R20 million for it? How can I forget that they Tax our parents' salaries, then they come and TAX our orphan’s allowances so that we can cover our leaders costs. Keep in mind that the Orphans fund is only available to those who are between 18-22, full time students, what happens after you graduate for your under-grad? Since employment is such a dream in our country, do we beg at corners of our streets? What do we do? Our parents worked super hard for them”

It seems like so many people are just doing what most people do, sit at home, consuming their parent’s money and not try anymore? That scares me, because it seems as though SA’s youth are slowly but surely giving up on it and looking to be valued and appreciated in other countries.

A scientist friend of mine, Azeeza Rangunwala (@krazeescientist), was an intern medical scientist at an international conference, Americans and Germans asked purely out of curiosity what she was earning and when she told them they responded with “Kids who flip burgers at McDonalds earn more and they don’t have the qualifications that you do”.

The Leadership of this country does not see a future in the youth, in my opinion. This is evident in all major and minor organisations throughout the country. The youth are left to fend for themselves in a society that hyped them up over a course of 18 years, only to shut down any dreams we have. As mentioned earlier the youth are more energetic and are hungrier. What's going to occur once we've collectively had enough? I'll leave that to your imagination.

Every industry in South Africa is undervalued, but my question is: What is this fear of new idea’s that has a firm grip on South Africa?

The 3 years+ experience that's always required, make it mandatory that companies should start interning students on a part-time basis from grade 10 onwards, those with degrees/second year student should be exempt, or start by enforcing that entrepreneurial skills are developed and molded from primary school, not only on market days but by teaching the youth that they can be a creator of jobs and not just an employee.

Another friend of mine, Dylan Myburgh (@mybes_10) said something that resonated with me, “I guess I just believe they’re mainly concerned about financial gain than being human. Then again, I guess everyone else is after that financial gain”.

The youth are losing faith in a system meant to help them and the country they love so much.

If the younger generation having little faith in the systems doesn’t scare you, then nothing will.

You can follow me on twitter: @LeratoMannya

*** Thanks to @kapulo for his contribution to the article

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