“Those who are employed in a society are able to participate in the production and services of that society… As long as they are paid adequately, they are able to be, to some considerable extent, self-determining.” proclaimed Jacoba Lourensa Smith in her research A Journey Through the “Desert” Of Unemployment.
Being broke is childish yet being unemployed is as disconcerting as being treated like a child.
Apart from financial benefits of employment, there are also spread out effects of unemployment that are primarily overlooked.
Unemployment is prevalent in both developed and developing countries, but for developing countries, this problem brings more challenges (like increased poverty) and complications (like political and social instability). Novelist P. Baker expressed in publication “Unemployment is probably the most severe problem South African society is experiencing and it is conceivably the root cause of many other problems”.
According to quarterly labour force survey, The number of unemployed people rose to 4.7-million and the number of discouraged work-seekers to 2.4-million. Between these two groups there are now over seven million people without work… Hmm.
On the other hand there are unemployed people who have lost hope in looking for jobs, why? “For many, long-term unemployment means a spiraling down from optimism through shock, anger, denial and depression to eventual apathy; it all can result in alienation, powerlessness, unemployable and empty time” (Smyth 1994:46).
“There was a time when I spent a year, after dropping out of varsity, trying all possible ways to find a job. Bleh! Then in 2012, before volunteering at a local development center, I spent another 10 months, jobless!, again in 2013 it took me 3 months also to find employment.”
Now imagine, if I, as an active job seeker, spent more than two accumulative years being unemployed, what about the discouraged job seekers who have spent many years job hunting?
I find it hard to judge an unemployed young person. I mean looking for a job for a long period of time can/will affect one mentally, morally and physically. It’s not all about profession or money but employment brings the benefits of structured time, purpose, social status and identity, social contact, activity as well as the sense of belonging. All these attributes play an essential part of a young person’s life regardless of their background.
The feeling of constant rejection is very demoralizing; one even begins to doubt the worth of their purpose in life. I’ve been in that position, being home and doing ‘nothing’ every single day for a mere 3 months is enough to put a person in a mental blockage, depression, even desperation begins to surface. All these negative consequences of unemployment might result in depressive symptoms and/or other mental health issues. Which in turn escalates the number of discouraged job seekers, then the high poverty rate, and so it all becomes a vicious cycle!
Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s not a young person’s fault that their lives are going down the drain. Think about it, in 1995, 82 percent of graduates with diplomas in SA were unemployed, but only 18 percent of graduates with degrees were unemployed. Uhm? Does that mean the South African education system (even in the tertiary level) could be so poor that it motivates unemployment? it’s meant to produce more skilled individuals for the workforce but it seems to be doing the inverse, Hmm!
Again when one is unemployed for a very long time their skills become rusty and effectively degraded and renders them nearly unemployable.
Furthermore apartheid urban planning concentrated the black population in “unimportant” residential areas, where the majority of the unemployed population is found. Yes, large sections of our population live far away from their place of work plus on the other hand the SA transport system is sh*ty. What is the point in travelling to work only to spend three-quarters of your hard earned wages on travel costs? I mean really!!?
To a middle class person, these may sound like unreasonable excuses, however if your net salary is below the average on a monthly basis, it becomes a challenge to feed a large family, this is a big deal.
“Prominent leaders in and outside government have also stated that no government will be able to govern South Africa… if this problem is not addressed effectively” this is according to Prince Hall. It’s pretty much clear that we have a long way to go in terms of decreasing the unemployment rate and the development of SA, but before you lift your hand to point a finger at those jobless guys at the corner, try to figure out how they arrived at that point and the challenges they face trying to pick themselves up.
References: Bangane, Weekend Trevor, URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10210/6310
The effect of unemployment on the mental health of spouses, Jan Marcus.
Unemployment in South Africa – Prof. Bhorat
Jacoba Lourensa Smith in her research A Journey Through the “Desert” Of Unemployment.
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