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How would you solve youth unemployment if you had the chance?

by: Sheilan Clarke - 20 December 2016

Taken from a previous debate at Vaal University of Technology earlier this year. Image: Thabiso Molatlhwa

Project Demo’s parliamentary correspondent, Sheilan Clarke recently attended  a youth unemployment summit help at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU)  in the Eastern Cape. It was here and back in Cape Town she spoke young people trying to find solutions to youth unemployment. Here are some of their suggestions. If you have solutions you want share with us, please do.

“Focus on community education” 

For NMMU student, Irna Senekal, community education is one of the solutions in helping to solve youth unemployment. Irene says for her, community education or participation means people using their own experiences and things they have learned to help find solutions to their problems. She believes, for example, service delivery protests could be a thing of the past if the community members were taught how to collect refuse and fix drainage. This way services would be restored quicker and jobs would be created.

“Using stokvels as a way out of poverty” 

Much like Irene’s suggestion, Anele Dloto’s concept is driven by people who live in the affected areas taking matters into their own hands. For him, the solutions lie in creating a solidarity economy. “Solidarity economy is the theoretical and practical pursuit of engaging with the economy in a different way. It’s all about re-organising the labour market so that people outside the formal labour market can participate”. He says that stokvels are a good example of a solidarity economy, where people save money in a group and share it once it has earned enough interest. He says that if people start saving in this way, it can go a long way in helping people out of poverty.

RELATED: “At some point I felt like looking for a job became a job in itself”

 “Give entrepreneurship skills to youth” 

For Capetonian Sizipiwe Tembani, young people are not taught the proper skills to not only find but create employment for themselves. “In order for the South African government to try and minimise youth unemployment, they need to have programmes where the youth are given skills to be entrepreneurs or have their own businesses instead of relying on the government for employment.” She also believes that entrepreneurship should be taught in schools. “Having subjects that equip the kids with skills other than the normal Maths, English and Life Orientation.”


But many issues were raised at the conferences as standing in the way of us solving youth unemployment. Things like gender inequality, corruption and irregular expenditure by government (which was reported to be at R46 billion for the 2015-2016 financial year alone) as well as young people (matriculants and graduates) graduating with skills that do not match the needs of the industry.

But the government has many departments from labour to education as well as agencies like the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) which are tasked with helping us to solve the youth unemployment issue. Are they doing enough? Are we doing enough to hold them accountable? The answer to both is “No”. But with Project Demo, we can help to change that. Join us.

Feature image taken at a previous debate on youth unemployment at Vaal University of Technology earlier this year, by Thabiso Molatlhwa

Project Demo finds the voices of young people in South Africa, amplifies their stories and turns their cause for change into a reality. Tell us your issue. We’ll take it on and campaign with you.

Twitter: @_sheilan_