Hope, anger and frustration - mixed feelings at Durban jobs fair

Published Sep 28, 2023


There were glimmers of hope, flashes of anger, but mostly frustration among those who attended the jobs fair at the Durban Exhibition Centre in Durban on Thursday, hosted by the Department of Employment and Labour.

IOL spoke to some of the attendees who arrived before Minister Thulas Nxesi and the BRICS delegation could, and asked them about their expectations from the fair.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu was also in attendance but did not speak during proceedings.

Education graduates Londeka Zuma and Philile Phewa, both from Durban, said they were leaving early because the brochure promised they would meet with prospective employers but all they were told to do was fill in their information and take a pamphlet.

“I thought we were going to meet people that are looking for us and who have opportunities. The people that we came for, they are not here. That is the most disappointing part.

“I’m really serious about education and I’m not getting any younger,” Zuma said.

Londeka Zuma (left) and Philile Phewa at the Job Fair in Durban on Thursday. Picture: Jehran Naidoo

Sinethemba Calade, 34 who is from the Eastern Cape but was visiting family in Durban at the time of the job fair, said he was hoping to get any job as unemployed life was not easy.

“I used to work in a chemical laboratory for some time but that job ended during that whole Covid period. Now I am here, just hoping to see what I can find you know,” Calade said, holding a copy of his CV in hand.

Sinethemba Calade, 34, from the Eastern Cape, was hoping to find some form of employment at the Durban Job Fair. Picture: Jehran Naidoo.

Ntombizanele Sithole told IOL she spent the last year unemployed and had enough, she too, hoped the fair would prove fruitful.

Electrical engineer Gershan Govender from Durban said he was just there to try his luck, as he was both optimistic and pessimistic about his chances of getting a job in the Durban labour market.

“I used to work for a company called Reutech Communications but was retrenched and had no luck finding a job recently. I even applied in other provinces like Gauteng and the Eastern Cape and was even willing to relocate.

“I got called for a couple of interviews but it was always the same thing, you never hear back from them. I honestly just came here to try my luck, I mean you never know when it comes your way,” Govender said.

After travelling about an hour into the Durban CBD from Pietermaritzburg, Zano Mayeni told IOL he was also just trying his luck and would even consider going overseas to work, given the current condition of the South African labour market.

According to Statistics South Africa, over 30% of the South African population is unemployed and with current hikes in fuel prices and the cost of living, surviving has become a daunting task for most, even worse for those with children.

Twenty-one-year-old Samkelo Sibisi from the Shongweni area, west of the CBD, was the hopeful one in the bunch, saying the fair opened his eyes to what needed to be done to further his career in civil engineering.

“I was previously employed in an internship. It was at an engineering company, so I have experience in my field and I think that's a good thing.

“I came here today to just scope around and find out where and what I need to do to get ahead. I think it’s good that events like this take place because it does open your eyes to other possibilities. Having access to other platforms and people is more important that having a qualification,” Sibisi told IOL.

Samkelo Sibisi said the job fair opened his eyes to what needed to be done and how he needed to do it, with regards to finding a job in this country but also said having “contacts” would be very helpful, even more so than his civil engineering qualifications. Picture: Jehran Naidoo

Twenty-seven-year-old Nkosinathi Luthuli said he has been relying on family members financially since February, when he lost his job in the administration field.

The Hammersdale resident, who attended the event with his two younger and also unemployed sisters, said they were hoping to find any form of employment but a job in their field would be nice.

Luthuli’s parents have passed away and thus supporting the his family is now a burden he must carry, but that has been difficult in the current economic climate.

“I don’t know what to expect here today. Sometimes these Ministers just say things without meaning them. I came here today thinking I’d find a job suited to my qualifications,” Luthuli said.