Eighty-four percent of young people born after the end of apartheid are positive about their job prospects.
This is according to a recent survey conducted by the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business (Gibs), aimed at revealing the born-free generation’s feelings about their future in South Africa.
Despite crippling labour strikes and high unemployment figures, this generation is optimistic about their prospects of finding a job.
The Gibs youth survey is conducted annually and provides insight into the minds of those born after apartheid.
Nearly 2 300 Grade 11 and 12 pupils (aged 17 and 18) took part in this year’s survey.
Findings showed the born-free generation is “acutely aware” of what is happening around them and is “very positive” about their career prospects.
More than 80 percent of those surveyed believe the country has a bright future and said they were ready to tackle this future with all its challenges.
First-year sound engineering student Gareth Speight, who did not take part in the survey, is optimistic about his career prospects in the country. “South Africa’s youth have a bright future, but they must be willing to put in the work.
“One cannot expect jobs to just magically appear,” he said.
He said it was not difficult to find a job. “I just think people are either looking in the wrong places or they are in the wrong field of work.
“Once people find the right field and they put in the work then I think there are jobs available,” he said.
One of the survey questions asked pupils to rate a number of questions about the country and themselves.
Findings showed that 86 percent of pupils believe the country has improved since the end of apartheid and racism is not a major problem.
Music student Kholeka Khuzwayo is under no illusion that the country has problems but feels positive the youth can change the country. “Nothing will change unless we have a new mindset and outlook on our issues. That’s where the youth is important,” she said.
Phyllis Byars, associate director at the Centre for Leadership and Dialogue at Gibs, said: “The annual youth survey is always an eye-opener. It is so encouraging to see how driven and hungry today’s youth are. It is clear that they are not carrying the weight of the past into the future with them and are carving their own paths towards a prosperous future”.
Almost 90 percent of pupils, who were born after 1994, said diversity is one of South Africa’s strengths.
Despite recent negative reports about the country’s education system, 90 percent indicated that the education they receive is preparing them adequately for future challenges and access to careers globally.
Although 72 percent of pupils say they could possibly emigrate, 76 percent believe they will have a better career in South Africa than elsewhere in the world.
Bradley Starr, an industrial design student at the Tshwane University of Technology, said he does not have faith in South African politicians but is optimistic about his career.
“In terms of politics I don’t know what to expect from the government with Nkandla, e-tolls and poor service delivery,” he said.
But this does not deter him from working towards his future. “I know how tough the road ahead is for me but I’m sure hard work and sacrifice will pay off in the end,” he said.
According to the 82 percent of the surveyed youth, black and white South Africans have equal opportunities now as opposed to during apartheid when white pupils benefited more.
“The survey provides ‘food for thought’ for our leaders. Serious measures have to be implemented to meet the demands of these youths who are on their way to form part of the workforce in less than five years from now,” Byars said.