Youth unemployment: The good, the bad and the ugly

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Youth Employment

It’s easy to believe that youth joblessness is a South African problemyet the truth is that globally youth unemployment is on the rise.

Certainly in South Africa, we have more than our fair share of it and currently, sit second in the world with youth unemployment at 55.2% just behind Kosovo at 57 % but ahead of our neighbours Namibia at 46.1%. 

Just let that sink it. 

More than half of our youth are unemployed, and unless we significantly increase growth in the economy this number cannot improve. The medium to long-term future also looks bleak as our population growth rate of 1.16% is roughly matched to growth in GDP (currently predicted at 1.8% for 2020).  

So, what can we do about it? 

  1. Stimulate the economy. Make a firm commitment to buy local, invest local. Start your own business or grow your existing businesses. Use this growth to employ more people and pay them well so they can become the market for more growth. 
  2. Increase the impact of your money By spending less in the major retail stores (who recycle about 16% of your money) and spend more at your independent owner-run store/ business (who recycle 48% of your money locally). This type of small/independent business spending means that your R1 will be multiplied (re-spent) 3.5 times more than R1 spent at Woolworths, Cell-C or Jet stores.  
  3. Reduce population growth. Have fewer children and support women who need birth control. Support the empowerment of women so they believe in their future and can insist on having control over their minds and bodies. 
  4. Prepare for the future. Educate youth in the skills needed for today – and tomorrow. Motivate your children to study courses that are relevant to the actual market demand – such as IT, communications, engineering, social marketing. Focus on maths, science, and technology. Provide real-time work experience and internship for youth – provide on-the-job experience and mentorship, and use the youth employment incentive to pay for it! 
  5. Support the counter-culture. In a world of growing technology, increasing joblessness, and online relationships we need to find other ways to create meaningful and engaged lives. Increase your emphasis on the arts, music, theatre, and sports. Participate, encourage and connect with others to keep real human interactions alive. Help unemployed youth find meaning and value in this way.

We are at the doorway to a new future and our task is to remain positive, seek out opportunities and create change in our own sphere of influence.  

There is so much we can do if we just commit to being a part of the solution, not the problem. 

In this issue, we unpack what two South African companies are doing to combat youth unemployment and how one young entrepreneur is bringing the old art of storytelling into the 21st century. If you’re concerned about #LivingYourBestLife then our article on social media will open your eyes. Bob Wendover talks all things millennials and we learn about the importance of reading and how it impacts your life as an adult from our M&E guru, Alexei McGregor.