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Solutions for youth unemployment

May 02 2016 11:04
Javed Malik*
SA's youth should be proactive by being on the lookout for specific schemes rather than waiting for the government to come and deliver at their doorsteps, says Javed Malik, co-chair of suspended low-cost airline Skywise.

By Javed Malik

Johannesburg - The question of youth employment remains even more important and is becoming almost insurmountable in South Africa.
Interestingly, I have observed that young South Africans are largely energetic, wise and ready to explore the world and contribute to social and economic good. This is the greatest strength a country can have, for if opportunities are made available, the economy will receive the necessary impetus to move forward.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, several things are working against the full realisation of youth opportunities in SA. These include, among other things, inadequate information about youth opportunities, mainly through government channels.
I believe the government is doing everything possible to create good opportunities for the youth in the country. That is why the government has come up with a lot of policies in favour of the youth in South African businesses - though these seem not to serve the purpose. The allocated funds and schemes are not reaching the deserving youth, so the objectives are getting lost along the way.

I have spoken to many young people and young entrepreneurs and they have no knowledge of what I am speaking about or if they are able to qualify for those programmes. Worse still, how will they ever get these benefits if they do not know how to obtain it or they believe these programmes are only going to benefit the people who have connections?
That is the perception the government needs to change. The government needs to create more awareness via the media and make these programmes much easier and reachable for the youth of SA.

I think individuals are taking advantage of these schemes to enrich themselves at the expense of the youth. So when the government creates these policies, they should have youth involved in discussions on how to implement them.
SA youth and young entrepreneurs continue to benefit through programmes like the Department of Trade and Industry's black industrialist scheme. The is also the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
Though these government schemes are well intended, in some cases the youth were not reacting fast enough in order to benefit from them.

I urge the SA youth to be proactive by being on the lookout for specific schemes rather than waiting for the government to come and deliver them at their doorsteps. I am very sure that the future of SA youths will be very bright if they work hard and together with government.
One other piece of advice from me to SA youth is to read newspapers, magazines, watch television and listen to radio programmes to know what opportunities may be available to them. Availability of information is key to expanding the intake of young people into jobs and advance their empowerment and development in the country.

In addition to the above, the scourge of wasteful government expenditure running also contributes to deny the youth what they rightly deserve. A lot still needs to be done to ensure government funds are well spent and reach where they are needed for youth employment and youth entrepreneurship.
While it is naturally trendy for young people to move into major cities for modern lifestyles, most of this trend is happening on the back of little knowledge about the importance of staying in rural areas where opportunities for work through mainly agriculture and related industries can be carved by hardworking young people.

However, before one entertains the idea of staying in a provincial or rural area, you have to consider if there is going to be financial resources and infrastructure for you to be able to develop appropriate businesses outside the mainstream business centres.

The government should, therefore, ensure adequate and provincially resources required by the youth, such as funding, expertise and infrastructure are in place. It must also ensure that budgets available to youth development institutions are strictly monitored across the required demographics.
The focus on rural-based youth capacitation should not be the only solution to solving youth challenges. Current efforts to empower the sector through small scale businesses in townships in metropolitan cities like Johannesburg should be sustained.
The private sector must also continue to play its part in various ways that enhance youth entrepreneurships or employment, such as through mentorships, provision of markets for agricultural products, easy financing, and market development assistance, among others.
The rise in youth unemployment has the danger of increasing crime as young people are idle a lot of the time. Many jobless youth seem to have given up in life.
In 1994, no one would have foreseen the staggering current unemployment rate for young people aged 15 to 34 years old, which increased from 32.7% to 36.1% between 2008 and 2014, according to Statistics SA.

Let’s work together and improve the conditions of our youths. Youth can be the masters of their own destinies when the right resources or back-up is made available to them, mainly because they are keen to develop themselves and be independent.
A better South Africa is possible only when the country’s youth have stable jobs and decent incomes.

* Javed Malik is the co-chair of suspended low-cost airline Skywise.

opinion  |  unemployment  |  youth


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