Adjusting to Home Life when you're Unemployed


Life can go from bad to worse within a few months of unemployment. In this article we learn about how Nondumiso Maseko and Lwando Giyama had to readjust to being home as unemployed graduates, as told by Siyanda Mbuzo.

Adjusting to Home Life when you're Unemployed

It is instilled in us from a young age that the only way to be successful is to go to a college or university. You even witness educated people in your family and community being treated like gods. In school the teachers tell you that pursuing higher education is the greatest thing you can ever do after you matriculate.

You start working hard from a young age because you are certain that getting a degree or diploma will elevate your lifestyle and bring your family out of poverty.

Although life in university is tough and you are constantly at the verge of an anxiety attack, you push through. You hold on because after university, the only road you will be taking is up to nothing but wealth and success. There is absolutely no way that things could go wrong when you have that degree.

You learn after graduating that you couldn't be more wrong, the degree doesn't always guarantee a job. Life can go from bad to worse within a few months of unemployment.


Lwando Giyama

I am a 26 year old graduate from a small township called Mfuleni in Cape Town. I studied at the University of Cape Town and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Social Science. After graduating I hoped that I would work for the government since I majored in Public Administration and Industrial Sociology.

Although I hadn't expected to get work immediately, I could never have imagined that 2 years later I'd still be unemployed and working short-term jobs to get by. Being back home as an unemployed graduate makes me feel very depressed because I'm constantly stressing about how I'll support my family. As soon as I came home after university my mom and siblings started worrying about me because I would lock myself in my shack the whole day, I didn't want anyone to pity me.

I didn't want anyone to pity me

I didn't even want my friends and girlfriend to visit me. At times I wished I was still in school because at least I felt useful as a student. When I was in university I used to share my food allowance with my family on a monthly basis. Now that I'm home with no job, I have no money coming in to help out at home.

When I graduated I became very desperate for a job so I would walk to Kuilsriver to look for construction work. The people who work in those sites are people from my neighbourhood so they would tell me to go home because I'm taking their jobs. They would mock me and say that I am a graduate so I should be in an office with a fancy job, not stealing their jobs. I then started helping my mom sell cushions on the street but the money we make is still not enough to sustain us.

Lwando now works at UCT on a short-term contract

When I told people I haven't had luck finding a job, some would say ''if you cannot find a job opportunity then create one''. When I asked someone "how?", they would say I must go to the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) to get funding for a business.

They would mock me

Early last year I finally went to the NYDA offices in Cape Town CBD because I wanted to hear from them in detail how I could go about getting funding. When I got there, I explained my situation to the consultant and asked him to advise me on to how to grow the pillow business that me and my mom were busy with.

The consultant said that if I wanted funding I'd have to bring them receipts of whatever transactions we have for the business. The problem was that we didn't have receipts because we had an informal business so that we could survive. The consultant didn't seem interested on engaging with me as he was on his cell phone while consulting with me. Mind you, I went to the NYDA with the last money I was supposed to use to buy a deodorant.

I was very discouraged by all of that because the person that I consulted didn't even pay attention to me, from the way he was engaging with me I could see he didn't find value in what I had to say.

Starting a business is not as easy as people make it out to be and not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur. That is the very reason we study different things in university, so that we could serve our purpose in different industries.

I now work at UCT on a short term contract and I am already stressing about how I'll support my family once this contract ends.


Nondumiso Maseko

I moved from Mpumalanga to Cape Town to study at UCT because it is said to be the best university in the country. I thought being a graduate at UCT guaranteed that I would get a job after all my hard work.

I barely made it out of UCT because in my last year I did not get accommodation so I was displaced. It was a tough year and the only thing that kept me going was knowing that I'd get a good job after university and I'd look back and laugh at my situation.

I barely made it out of UCT

Being unemployed for years has been a rude awakening; not even a UCT degree can shield you from the misfortune of unemployment. I no longer have access to the internet and have to go to the library or use the internet café to apply for jobs.

My parents understand that I am doing my best to get a job. They are very supportive and don't make me feel bad for not being able to contribute financially. The only pressure I feel comes from the snide remarks I get from my neighbours because the community expects you to be working, driving and living your best life after university. Some don't even understand that you are desperately seeking opportunities. Some community members mock me and ask me "where's your car?" when they see me waiting for a taxi.

The issue of unemployed graduates makes me think about a lot of things. First and foremost this whole notion that was sold to us of education being the only key to success. To some of us who have gotten the actual taste of being an unemployed graduate, it is as clear as day that education is not the only key to success. I've gotten to see a whole lot of people who don't even have degrees or a qualification occupying huge positions in the public sector. That time we have unemployed graduates who studied public policy and administration.

There's just no hope for us

People who know about the public sector are sitting at home depressed because there's just no hope for us.

I believe nowadays that what brings one success are the connections they have. You can be educated and all but if you don't have that, then just take a seat. The alternative is joining other graduates who fall into the cracks, working dead end jobs where they are underpaid and exploited.   



This article was written by Siyanda Mbuzo (@CeeTheStyle)

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