Entrepreneurship Not Enough Of A Solution For SA Youth

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While the latest Stats SA figures show South Africa's unemployment rate increased just slightly to 32.6% in the first quarter, it's the jobless youth facing the most direct consequences.The youth jobless rate read as per the expanded definition is now at a staggering 74.7%.


Wednesday marked South Africa's Youth Day in commemoration of the Soweto uprising in 1976 while the country sees staggering statistical figures in youth unemployment dominating public discourse in media outlets through and through.    

Dr Pali Lehohla, Former Statistician-General, said that it is not enough to merely suggest that the youth must pursue entrepreneurial opportunities while there are systemic errors in the system.

We have regressed because if you look at Fees Must Fall, it was the same thing as June 16th. So we haven't tackled what needs to be tackled and when you start asking why you find that the policies are not actually addressing this

"And then what we are barking at, from the top of our voices is that let the youth be entrepreneurial, let the youth work harder, let the youth worker harder, let the youth do this. Surely when there systemic errors in the system they cannot do that. It's impossible." 

Lehohla also went on to say that part of the problem includes youth employment positions having shifted over to most of the country's adult population.

What is worse is that the share of employment of the youth has been eaten up by the elders now. Almost 2 million jobs that used to be in favour of the youth,15 to 34 have now been transferred to the adult population which is 35 and above, leaves the youth more and more unemployed.

Socio-economic factors have led the South African youth to start a movement such as Fees Must Fall to which the government did not respond correctly.

"Proportionately, while the few in the 70's that would go to university they were sure to complete their education, now these days the more that we send, the more wastage we encounter because they don't finish in time, blacks don't finish in time."

But what we have to grapple with or at least be encouraged by, is that blacks performing at the same rate as whites, now these days they spend about seven in there, not because they are stupid but because their fees are not paid, they sleep in toilets and everything and that is going on and on and that what triggered Fees Must Fall. Our response to Fees Must Fall was a lousy response.

Dr Lehohla is an Executive Committee Member of Indlulamithi SA Scenarios 2030 which sketches scenarios for a socially cohesive country, asking if this could be achieved by 2030.

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