By: Sheilan Clarke and Lethabo Bogatsu
According to Africa Check, in the first three months of 2015, “about 50.6% of unemployed youth aged below 35 years have never worked.” That’s just over half the youth population. Where have we gone wrong? How do we fix it? We spoke to two young people — one self-employed and the other unemployed, to tell us their experiences about struggling to navigate through the national high rate of unemployment.
“The youth have a sense of entitlement”
Name: Belinda Phofu
Work status: Self-employed, SIIC Jewellery
“Honestly, I don’t expect anything from the government. Mainly because all the people who I know who have approached the NYDF (National Youth Development Foundation) for example, have not come back with any positive responses. Word of mouth is important.
A lot of young people have a sense of entitlement because we have rights, but at the end of the day, government doesn’t owe us anything. I also strongly feel that there are other, urgent issues we face. If anything, the government’s attention should be focused on improving the quality of education. It would be fabulous if they gave me R60 000 for my business, but I’d rather they use it on education.
I don’t really think a lack of government support would stop me from achieving my goals. After I matriculated, I used to think I would never amount to anything without a varsity education. I didn’t go to varsity because I couldn’t get government funding. I was crushed on the two instances where I went to them for help and received nothing in return. But now, I found that I’ve done what I wanted to do, mostly thanks to the community of young creatives that helped me when government wouldn’t. Yes, I could really do with funding to help get a studio so I can improve the quality of my pieces, but my business is growing but even without the government. I’ll find a way.
“I’m always told I don’t have enough experience”
Name: Salatiso Mazimela
From: Cape Town
Education: Sports Management & Administration Diploma (2011)
Work status: Unemployed
“From a young age, I knew I wanted to be involved in sports. After high school, I studied Sports Management at Boston College and graduated as the top student in my final year . I had a burning desire to be involved in the sports industry and I have prior experience in sports, but clearly that isn’t enough. I’ve come to accept that, in South Africa, having a qualification isn’t enough to get a job. Whenever I apply for a job, I’m told I either am too over qualified or don’t have enough experience. Still, I haven’t lost hope because the same people who reject me now will be the ones I mention in an acceptance speech one-day.”
If you’ve got questions or concerns of your own about youth unemployment, join us at the VIP Debate Club: Party People Edition where we’ll have a robust debate with the Democratic Alliance’s, Zakhele Mbhele. For event and registration details, click here.
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