June 16th – Do the youth have a reason to celebrate?
Every year South African’s have a reason to celebrate Youth Day to honour the courage and sacrifice of the Soweto Uprising youth and celebrate all young people.
The unfortunate and difficult truth is that currently, most of the countries youth struggle to find financial freedom as unemployment rates sky rocket. The youth make up 59% of the population which is alarming when you consider how they are still being defeated in the labour market. Statistics South Africa reported that of the 32,6% of the country’s unemployment rate, 46,3% thereof accounted for is people younger than 34 years of age. Youth aged between 15 and 24 years old were reported to be among the most affected by unemployment with an unemployment rate of over 63% in the first quarter of 2021.
This indicates that around one in three south Africans between 15- 24 had no presence in the workforce during this period.
So, with a third of the population economically inactive and the harsh impact of COVID-19 on South Africa, it is important that youth unemployment is urgently addressed given a significant and imminent economic threat
There are four main types of unemployment:
Structural unemployment mostly affects graduates, where there is a lack of sufficient skills matching the market demand, or lack of work experience.
Seasonal unemployment affects young people most because certain sectors employ people on a temporary basis during specific times of the year- for example retail and hospitality work during festive seasons.
Frictional or transitional unemployment occurs when someone is switching or in between jobs.
Natural unemployment is where young people struggle to secure a career after graduating.
While there are many reasons why South African youth are burdened with the difficulties of unemployment, there are equally problematic issues that they face with employment. Hurdles and shortcuts such as short term training contracts, unpaid internships and unsustainable and unregulated hours all contribute to their challenge to secure and build a career over time.
This Youth Day, while we celebrate and remember the youth of 1976, it is critically important to also consider how today’s and future youth can be empowered going forward.