Youth Unemployment in South Arica

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Majority of the people of South Africa face the harsh reality of not working. Therefore more people are in need of work, hence South Africa needs to have more inclusive labour market. Statistically the numbers show that out of a population of 50 million people, only 13.1 million are employed. This means the majority of South Africans face further challenges of poverty, inequality and social inequities as a result of the exclusion from the labour market (National Treasury, 2011). Of the people included in the exclusion from the labour market, the focus in this essay lies with youth unemployment in South Africa. South Africa defines youth as people between the ages of 15 and 34 years old while the International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines youth in a more restricted manner as people between the ages of 15 and 24 years. Using South Africa’s definition, in December 2010, about 3 million young people were unemployed and 1.3 were discouraged. This translates to about 72 per cent of the overall unemployment. On the other hand when using the ILO’s definition, the number of unemployed youth is more than 1.2 million which translates to 30 per cent of overall unemployment. This means that one in every two young people looking for work was jobless (National Treasury, 2011). Evidence shows that young people are disadvantaged in the labour market and in most cases are left without basic competencies due to shortfalls in the education system which constrain them, the lack of work experience which would provide vital on-the-job learning and training and the lack of contact with the job market and ability to develop networks which is an important factor in improving employment. Therefore, together this suggests a gap between young entry-level workers and productivity and discourages firms from hiring young workers whose productivity cannot adequately be assessed (National Treasury, 2011). From the above mentioned, youth unemployment in South Africa is clearly an issue that needs to be explored with detail in order to gain insight as to what are its causes and what interventions can be put into place to alleviate youth unemployment and there improve youth employment. This essay therefore aims to discuss the possible causes of youth unemployment and the National Development Plan (NPD) with regards to their interventions on the issue. Furthermore, suggestions of what role the government could play in improving the level of youth employment will be explored together with the pros and cons of those suggestions.

Causes of Youth Unemployment
There are numerous reasons as to why such a large number of young people are unemployed. To begin with these include issues related to the fact that employers require skills and experience when looking to employ new people. Majority of the youth is regarded as unskilled, inexperienced jobseekers and therefore would be a risky investment for employers. Schooling and education are not substitutes for skills and are not reliable signals of capability; they are only necessary but are not sufficient for employment. Therefore given the levels of uncertainty pertaining to this group of young people, the employers view is as the risk of hiring inexperienced workers does not match the entry-level wages, they are too high (National Treasury, 2011). Another cause is due to the education system. It generally has failed to prepare young people with fundamentals such as numeracy, literacy, critical thinking and problem solving skills. Furthermore the education system does not encourage procurement of values such as self-discipline and work ethic that are necessary in the workplace. In addition when evaluating the group unemployed youth it is found that they are a highly diverse group with varying levels of education. Therefore it proves impossible for employers to establish which of the new labour market entrants who have completed secondary education are best equipped to enter the world of work. Excluding...
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