Youth Unemployment and youth absence from the mainstream economy
Youth unemployment in
Dr Christopher Malikane, an associate professor of economics at
The AU Youth Charter specifies that “every young person shall have the right to social, economic, political and cultural development with due regard to their freedom and identity and in equal enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind”. However, despite the declarations, the South African labour space remains by and large characterised by exploitation; with a large casual labour force. Most unskilled young people find their services utilised here.
Malikane argues that accelerating growth given existing patterns of distribution will accelerate inequality and poverty and the youth will be most affected by this as they make up a big chunk of the labour force.
A 2008 survey by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
The basis of the solution to youth development and economic participation in
Ralph Mathekga, an independent political analyst, stresses the need to read young people's absence in the mainstream economy as not only a youth problem, but a national problem. According to him the slow pace of economic transformation is an urgent national crisis and impedes on whatever progress young people try to make. To Mathekga, there is a direct link between general unemployment and marginalisation of young people from the mainstream economy.
• Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan in his Budget speech noted that: "South African youth were worse off than their global counterparts in other emerging economies with 12.5% of them below the 25 employed compared to the average global statistic of 40%".In SA, employment of 18 to 24 years olds has fallen by more than 20% (320 000) since December 2008.
• To this end R9 billion has been set aside over the next three years for a Jobs Fund to co-finance innovative public-and private-sector employment projects.
• A youth employment subsidy is set to create a net 180 000 jobs over three years with a R5 billion youth employment subsidy under discussion by government.
• About 42% of young people under the age of 30 are unemployed compared with less than 17% of adults over 30. Only 1 in 8 working age adults under 25 years of age have a job compared with 40% in most developing countries.
• 72% of the youth population in Sub Saharan Africa as living on less than $2 a day as a result of poor education and lack of skills (Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project: 2010).
• Youth unemployment went up from 49.7% to 49.4%, general unemployment declined from 25.2% in the first quarter of 2010 to 25%in the first quarter of 2011 (Institute of Race Relations).
• 42% of young people between the ages of 18 and 29 are unemployed
By the end of 2009, 53,4% of young black Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 were unemployed and this was three times worse than the unemployment rate of 14,5% among young white South Africans
Skills shortage poses a serious threat to the country's long-term economic growth potential. A report by Adcorp Employment Index alludes to the fact that the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) have not done as well as expected and notes how, for example, the National Skills Fund failed to disburse R3.5 billion which was earmarked for skills development.
In January 2011, Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande launched South
Africa's third National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS III) in an
effort to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of South Africa's skills
development system. Amongst other planned activities, the NSDS III will focus
on technical and scarce skills; address the low levels of youth and adult
language and numeric skills which will enable additional training. According to
the minister, '
One of the NYDA's mandates is to ensure skills development and promote access to economic participation. To this end, the youth agency has partnered up with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to ensure that young people form part of international trade delegations.
OECD argues that a range of policy responses are required to achieve rapid
sustained growth where employment is needed. A multi-dimensional approach is
needed which would, for example, look at ‘improved basic education,
reduced spatial mismatches between jobseekers and jobs, and better access to credit
for small enterprises as well creating the conditions for and encouraging
entrepreneurship. The AU chair, Dr Jean Ping, in his Africa Day address,
stressed that youth concerns on the continent have to be seen as legitimate to
avoid similar revolts that swept across
Youth and HIV and AIDS
HIV and AIDS is a social issue that cuts across race, class and gender.
• According to a UN Report, Opportunity
in Crisis, launched on 1 June 2011 - an estimated 2 500 young people are
newly infected with HIV daily. The report found that young women and adolescent
girls faced a disproportionately higher risk of infection due to biological
vulnerability, social inequality and exclusion. Globally young women make up
more if than 60% of all young people living with HIV and AIDS - jumping to 72%
• According to 2009 Lovelife research findings, 9% of the country’s youth between the ages of 15 and 24 are living with HIV and AIDS.
• Among the HIV positive 15 – 24 age group, 77% of them are female.
• 75% of HIV positive individuals were between the age of 20 and 24 years and 95% were African.
• 59% of these lived in urban areas and 41% in rural areas.
• A UN Report, Opportunity
in Crisis, estimates that 5 million (4.3 million–5.9 million) young people
(aged 15–24) and 2 million (1.8 million–2.4 million) adolescents (aged 10–19)
were living with HIV in 2009. Although these young people could be found
in countries on all continents, most of them lived in sub-Saharan
• Globally, young women make
up more than 60 per cent of all young people living with HIV; in sub-Saharan
• The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) believes that HIV is a social issue that needs an integrated approach and is concerned by the fact that 36% - 56% of people living with HIV (PLHIV) have experienced loss of employment and 40% - 61% workplace discrimination, exclusion or forced disclosure of HIV status. The trade union is concerned about the fact that more than 90% of PLHIV are workers with infections concentrated among people of working 15 to 49 years.
The NYDA was officially launched to much enthusiasm on 16 JUNE 2009. The
agency targets youth between the ages of 14 and 35. Their key performance areas
include economic participation, education and skills development, facilitating
the national youth service, policy, lobby and advocacy as well as ensuring that
there is social cohesion amongst this group. Under increasing scrutiny from
civil society and political parties, the NYDA has had to justify how it spends
its money and to what end their programmes and initiatives benefit the youth of
For more on the establishment of the NYDA click here.
• In 2009 the government of
• The agency came under heavy criticism in 2010 for spending approximately R100 million on the World Festival of Youth.
• According to the chairman of the NYDA, Andile Lungisa, the agency's R380 million budget is insufficient to resolve issues unemployment in totality amongst the 15 - 24 age bracket
• To date the agency has facilitated R64.4 million in funding businesses by young people
• They have assisted 31 000 young people with start-up loans
• 500 young people graduated from the NYDA's National Rural Youth Service Corps programme and 60 000 jobs were created through the agency's entrepreneurial and life skills programmes
• 5 277 young entrepreneurs went through the agency doors in need of business consultancy services vouchers and were assisted in that regard
• The agency reports that in excess of 11 000 were connected to job opportunities through their database
• More than 400 000 young people received career guidance
A critique of the NYDA
Ralph Mathekga says that the NYDA is supposed to be a non-partisan agency, seeing to the needs of all youth, serving and identifying their challenges, irrespective of political affiliations and yet it is popularly seen as an extension of the ANC Youth League. The deployment system used by the youth body of employing individuals predominantly from the ANCYL compromises and easily shifts the NYDA’s focus from delivering to the youth to fighting political battles within the ANCYL. The danger also lies on the fact that the youth agency can be easily seen to be used as a channel for dispensing patronage in the youth politics of the country.The IFP Youth Brigade argues that there is no significant difference between the NYDA and the failed Umsobomvu and Youth Commission. According to them it was a mere merger of two failed institutions and a change of name. According to the DA youth the youth agency is unclear about its mandate and how it is supposed to serve young South Africans. It viewed money used during the World Festival of Youth as a waste of resources that could have been used to create ‘real opportunities and to develop skills. It has since withdrawn from the NYDA.
The FF Plus youth views the NYDA as a stumbling block for youth development in