Youth unemployment in South Africa has been described by the COSATU general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi as a ticking time bomb. There is merit in the warning in that a large number of unemployed youth have been at the centre of the uprisings and rebellions in Africa and globally in recent years. South Africa has the third highest unemployment rate in the world for people between the ages of 15 to 24, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risk 2014 report.
The report estimates that more than 50% of young South Africans between 15 and 24 are unemployed. Only Greece and Spain have higher unemployment rates in this age range than SA, the report states. Education has been purported to be the answer to high youth unemployment in South Africa. It is estimated that more than 60% of young people in Khayelitsha are unemployed. We spoke to three young unemployed people about their situation.Twenty nine year old Asanda Dawethi attended Lwandle Primary and Zakhele Secondary schools in Khayelitsha.
She completed matric in 2006, and she never got a job ever since she passed – almost 8 years ago. She told us that she has applied to various companies, state departments and retail shops, but all in vain. In desperation, she worked as a volunteer at a public works program. When asked about her inability to get a job, she said, “I think that corruption and nepotism play a major role in my unemployment.” Asanda adds that youth who live in places like Camps Bay do not feel the same level of suffering because they have better education and they have inherited wealth from their parents. However, she denies that youth unemployment is linked to poor quality of education alone. However, she admitted that subject choice and lack of skills could contribute to her unemployment. She concluded on a sad note, “Had my parents not died while I was young, I could have been a staff nurse with my own car and a house”.
Asanda survives on a social grant.
Priscilla Jeremiah, 29, has been unemployed for the past 7 years after she matriculated at Bulumko Secondary in Khayelitsha. She did not do maths and science at the school due to the poor quality of education. Consequently, she claims that she is rejected by learnership programs because she did not do maths and science at school. Priscilla survives on a child social grant and a stipend from the Public Works Programme. Lastly, we spoke with Luvuyo Nyambali, a 26 year- old graduate from CPUT. He graduated with a Diploma in Horticulture. Upon completing the diploma, he worked for the City of Cape Town on contract for a year. When his contract ended, he tried to apply for other jobs without success. Now he says his 4 year diploma is useless. Luvuyo suggests that the lack of skills, poor quality of education and lack of experience are major causes of youth unemployment. For him, the government must create public projects and accelerate job opportunities in order to solve the problem of unemployment. Luvuyo does not have any alternative source of income and he survives by getting hand-outs from his aunt and cousin.