Youth unemployment will be felt for decades, both by those affected and by society at large.

2014-04-14 07:59

SA Youth is energetic, enthusiastic and full of zeal. Unfortunately a large number of them are without jobs and direction. It is dangerous to allow them to remain idle, as it would increase their frustration. A large number of them are capable, devoted, dedicated idealists and are fond of work. Their frustration is a result of being without any worth­while job. It is a great national wastage if these energetic hands and brains are not provided with some sort of work to meet the needs of the nation.   No country can permit such wastage. What is needed is that they should be taken into confidence and given a direction—some constructive work. This massive manpower can do wonders provided its enthu­siasm is harnessed for development work. SA youth has never lagged behind when called upon to meet a challenge. It is for the national leaders to play their part by mobilising their abilities and providing them with decent jobs. Let there be no doubt about our strength, power and capability, in our own country before 1994 the youth played a very inspiring role in overthrowing the apartheid regime.

SA’s youth are a ticking bomb. As over used as this metaphor is, it is accurate. Youth unemployment cannot be solved on its own, no matter how well the economy performs. The current Government has failed its youth and it’s critical that something be done. As the number of service- delivery protests and xenophobic attacks ratchet up alarmingly, it is clear that many youth consider their stake in the future of society and economy as hardly worth preserving. The pressing consequence of social instability, the jobless youth tend to stay unemployed into later adulthood and are in danger of becoming a generation of long-term unemployed. In addition to economic plans to increase youth employment, SA need a massive restructuring of their university systems to create two-year vocational schools or FET colleges that produce certified car mechanics, electricians, and other technicians. In Singapore, state-run vocational schools are often better funded than universities. Twenty-five percent of Singapore's youths go to that country's highly sophisticated vocational schools, and 90 percent of their graduates get jobs. Why not create more two-year vocational schools, and give students economic incentives, like in Mexico City's high schools? That would be a good recipe to start reducing the number of SA’s unemployment horror. Any society owes its young people the best possible opportunities to assume healthy and positive adult roles, both because the wellbeing of each individual is important in itself, and because of the potential contribution of individuals to the collective wellbeing.

Young people are expected to establish a sense of personal identity and become progressively more independent of parents. They move from school into the workforce, either directly or via further education or training. The majority of young people leave home during these years to establish households of their own, with or without others. On the other hand, unemployment and lack of an adequate income generally means being dependent on others - family, relatives, friends, a partner or the State - so the growing sense of autonomy, independence and responsibility for self, the right of every young person, is less able to develop. Again, women's experience illustrates this; greater opportunities for some economic independence have been crucial in changes to women's roles and status in society. While the growth of autonomy and independence is an integral part of becoming adult, so too is interdependence and responsibility for others. Indeed, they are core values in a humane and caring society. Access to employment and a living wage contributes to feelings of self-esteem and a sense of being socially useful. If young people do not have the right of any citizen to be valued and treated with respect, we can hardly be surprised if they fail to value interdependence and responsibility for others, or surprised if they regard others as uncaring. It is in fact a tribute to the faith, resilience and optimism of young people that so many of them do not seem to have lost these values. SA government may face waves of youth unrest, crime and vandalism if they fail to reduce the number of unemployed youngsters, which has reached "unprecedented" heights, what the country needs are innovative education programs that train youth with the skills demanded by the labour market. Governments have to ensure that once the youth come out of the education system, they are employable; I have noted there is a clear mismatch between what the education system produces and what the labour market demands. Furthermore, government should not perceive youth "as a problem" but as "partners of development. Youth participation has to be institutionalized in the government consultation program seeking answers to unemployment.

That regard, what looks like a useful lesson from Germany, the developed country with the smallest gap between the levels of unemployed young and older workers. It attributes this success to a highly successful apprenticeship system."In Germany, youth can train for 350 different kinds of jobs, such as an industrial mechanic, baker or hair stylist," Even university students may be an ’azubi’ (trainee), splitting their time between studying and earning money while gaining practical experience in fields such as biotech or aerospace. Without support for education and skills training, the result could be an economy plagued simultaneously by "jobs without people" and "people without jobs" There can be a large number of schemes, projects and programmes wherein our total involvement will bring quicker and better results. We can play a pivotal role in the socio-economic regeneration of the society. There are many evil practices in our society. If the youth is associated in a drive against these practices, the results may be much more satisfactory. There may be schemes connected with the raising of the level of production in agriculture and other fields. The youth may be assigned the job of dissemination of knowledge for better farming, new techniques and proper use of fertilisers and pesticides.

What is required is that they may be given adequate training in these tasks. In a drive against economic offences, their energy may be used in moulding public opinion in favour of eradication poverty and creating jobs.

Nhlanhla (Noble Son) Mosele

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