Government, private job market should play a part in remedying the unemployment reality South Africa faces

The youth should remain diligent in the quest to work and learn, says expert.

Managing director of SDC Wealth Wessel Botha says lower employment levels, particularly among young people, translate to lower contributions in taxation by a large percentage of the population.

“Government is a large contributor to employment through large infrastructure development and new industry growth. The low levels of employment essentially mean that the income generated by the government will be placed under increased pressure,” Wessel says.

This, he says, creates a negative cycle within the economy.

“Low economic growth leads to lower employment levels, which in turn leads to lower contributions to state income and private economic spend in companies, which leads to lower possibility of future economic growth… and the cycle starts all over again,” says Wessel.

What the youth can do

Wessel says young people need to identify where employment opportunities exist, particularly within evergreen industries.

“The Information technology sector, for example, experiences an increased demand for qualified applicants year-over-year (having experienced a 13 percent growth from Q1 2020 to Q1 2022, according to recent Pnet findings). While growth in this sector may not remain exponential, it is likely that the demand for workers in this sector will not wane in the foreseeable future.”

According to Wessel, the youth should also remain diligent in their desire to work and learn.

“That’s easier said than done. In an article released last year, Stats SA said, ‘The burden of unemployment is also concentrated among the youth’, as they account for 59,5 percent of the total number of unemployed persons. The unemployment rate among the youth is high, irrespective of education level,” he says.

At the time, the graduate unemployment rate was 40.3 percent for those aged 15 to 24 and 15.5 percent among those aged 25 to 34 years. The rate among adults, those aged 35 to 64 years, was 5.4 percent.

He urges young people between the ages of 15 to 34 to remain persistent and break the “cycle of dependence”.

“The overall NEET [ Not in Education, Employment, or Training] participation has not increased significantly enough in the past year. This is a serious concern because it indicates that youth are now less involved in any form of development in the country. As a society and economy, we need to ask ourselves, ‘What will happen in the next five years if this trend continues?’

“The first impact is that we could have lower education levels in youth, which would mean lower levels of employability. It also contributes to lower levels of competency uptake in the job market. New employment is not created, so employers make do with what they have or focus on upskilling only current employees. The National Skills Development Plan (NSDP) 2030 becomes even more unreachable in this negative economic and employment environment.”

Both the government and private sector should, Wessel says, play their part in addressing the overwhelming youth unemployment rate in South Africa.