Public, private sectors can put the youth to work
Share this article:
THE current high rate of unemployment among the youth could be significantly reduced if the public sector and the private sector joined forces to build a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem for the younger generation, says David Morobe, the executive general manager of impact investing at Business Partners Limited.
Morobe said youth employment was in dire straits. “As June 16 marks national Youth Day, I believe we need to acknowledge that this is a situation that threatens the future of our country. When you have so many young people without viable employment opportunities, you have a recipe for instability and economic hardship,” he said.
According to Stats SA (StatsSA), some young people have become discouraged by the lack of employment opportunities, or acquiring skills. They were as known as NEETs ,not in employment, education or training.
StatsSA said 32.4 percent of about 10.2 million people aged between 15 and 24 were NEETs in the first quarter of this year – 1.7 percentage points lower than last year.
It said the NEET rate for both men and women decreased by 1.6 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points, respectively.
Morobe said the turbulent economic landscape played a pivotal role in the youth unemployment crisis.
He said the problem had been exacerbated by Covid-19.
“As soon as the nationwide lockdowns started last year, many businesses started to shed jobs, and there is still very little room in the rest of the market to absorb all of the people whose jobs have been shed,” Morobe said.
“Entrepreneurial attitudes have also been affected, with many having lost motivation to create their own opportunities through entrepreneurial activity. These factors, coupled with an increasing population, invariably impact the country’s youth the hardest,” he added.
Morobe said there were viable ways to grow youth employment, despite the challenges.
He said education continued to be one of the most important ways to create opportunities for the youth and that honing their skills could lead to better production capacity, increased job opportunities and a rise in entrepreneurial activity.
Morobe said the quality of education for the vast majority of South Africa’s youth was still lacking, and many education specialists believed the pandemic had made the situation worse for the majority of the youth.
He said the public and the private sectors needed to start placing more focus on improving opportunities for high-quality, affordable education.
“Online learning is just one of the viable solutions to this problem,” Morobe said.
“It enables learners to access courses and textbooks, and minimises the issue of space in schools and universities.
“Given the demand for better education (especially in maths and science), investing more into this sector will definitely yield many benefits for the government and private sector companies alike.”
Morobe said business financiers also had a role to play in creating economic opportunities for the youth.
He said the broader business community could also help to make a difference.
“I believe that business owners should be ambassadors for entrepreneurship. They can contribute by encouraging others in their communities to create their own enterprises. They can also offer mentorship where they see the opportunity, which is incredibly valuable for any young entrepreneur. Having a positive impact on just one aspiring young entrepreneur can have a big ripple effect.”
Morobe said the public and the private sectors should make it a priority to become involved in initiatives that grew youth employment.
“It doesn’t require massive plans and huge investments,” he said. “Even small efforts can have good outcomes and help to secure our country’s future, and hopefully result in increased employment for our youth.”