To fight youth unemployment in South Africa, the National Arts Council (NAC) is embarking on a campaign to raise awareness about various career opportunities in the art industry. Stephen Hird, Reuters.
To fight youth unemployment in South Africa, the National Arts Council (NAC) is embarking on a campaign to raise awareness about various career opportunities in the art industry. Stephen Hird, Reuters.

5 ways art can fight youth unemployment in the country

By Opinion Time of article published Oct 22, 2021

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Julie Diphofa

As one of the key drivers that contribute to economic growth and job creation in the country, the art industry is committed to driving substantial job creation. To fight youth unemployment in South Africa, the National Arts Council (NAC) is embarking on a campaign to raise awareness about various career opportunities in the art industry.

The NAC’s campaign is set to provide guidelines on ways the youth can view art as a career. Herein, NAC will focus on providing information that may be useful and shape the negative perception of career opportunities in the art community. This will be done through their social media platforms, website and conducting a virtual event from 28-29 October 2021.

The arts careers are valuable in building a new socio-cultural order. The virtual event will be presented by various disciplines in the art industry addressing bursary opportunities and ways that art can help fight unemployment. This is the great motivation behind the NAC promoting art education to the youth.

With the significant developments in the industry over the years, the youth should be mindful that art is a vast field comprising multiple disciplines that are not just limited to music and acting. The disciplines range from Fine Art, Graphic Design, Fashion Design, Art Administration, Curating, and Photography, just to mention a few.

According to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), the official unemployment rate among young people has increased by 46,3% in the first quarter of 2021. As a result of the high level of youth unemployment in the country, the arts industry is likely to play a significant role in job creation. By identifying the gap in youth unemployment, the NAC is working towards educating people about careers in the art sector.

Through investing in scholarships, bursaries, and training programmes, there will be growth and development for a new generation of artists. The programmes are introduced to ensure that artists are nurtured in a way that people who recognise the value of art are able to value their art crafts.

In both the opportunities and challenges facing artists as they pursue their careers and advance their crafts, NAC believes that artists need to master navigating across specialist and generalist skills, social engagement, self-directed entrepreneurialism, precarious employment, and large metro centres and regional art markets.

They also state that youth following careers in art need to work beyond existing markets and create entirely new opportunities for themselves and others. By doing so, they will be correlating with decreasing unemployment.

In light of the challenges brought by the limited information available to the youth about the plethora of career opportunities that are available in the arts, below are five ways that art can be used to help fight youth unemployment in South Africa:

  • Think about taking some courses in the art field: The art industry offers many different career paths to choose from to prepare for employment. Developing your skills by enrolling in any art programme will help you gain a foundation of information on which you can build your knowledge.
  • Take part in art competitions: Entering art competitions is an easy way to showcase your talent if you are an artist who is trying to kick-start a career within the art industry or an artist working in various art spaces and looking to make a living. You will gain exposure and meet other artists who can offer you opportunities.
  • Establish a network within the art industry: Networking plays a key role in the success of an artist. Making yourself known to people who are working in the art industry might help you get job opportunities. Networking can also help you grow and create contacts within the industry for employment opportunities.
  • Participate in training programmes to prepare for employment: There are various training programmes in the art industry that can help to equip individuals with the skills they need to find employment. Training young people so they can secure jobs in the industry can reduce the country's high unemployment rate.
  • Self-employment and entrepreneurship: The art sector can help provide programmes that can equip people to gain skills to start their own businesses so they can become self-employed and provide employment opportunities for others. Our economy will also be stabilised if we encourage entrepreneurship as a means of fighting unemployment.

Educating the youth about different careers within the art community is by far one of the most impactful ways to fight unemployment in South Africa. Young people need to realise that there are various careers to choose from within the art industry.

By participating in the NAC campaign, the youth will be better-informed about career opportunities in the art industry so they can become world-class artists.

Julie Diphofa is the acting chief executive officer of the NAC.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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