EDITORIAL | Solutions to youth jobs crisis vital


Youth Day and Month offer an important time in South Africa to weigh up the immense contribution the youth made historically towards the achievement of hardfought freedoms and democracy in this country.While this is a legacy that should never be forgotten, the focus of Youth Day and Month has shifted notably in recent years from dwelling somewhat less on the past to looking (with no small degree of trepidation, it has to be said) to the future.The consistently high rate of unemployment among young people remains a pressing concern and a tremendous stumbling block to a prosperous SA.Youth unemployment increased to 55.2% in the first quarter of 2019 from 54.7% in the fourth quarter of 2018.It has not dipped below 50% since 2015, foreshadowing a worrying future trend.If you add discouraged work seekers to the group, the figure of youth without jobs climbs even higher.In SA those aged 15 to 34 years are regarded as youth. Some of these people are dejected about – and disconnected from – the labour market and they are not making an effort even to establish a skills base through some form of education and training.Black and female youth, particularly those who are living in rural communities, but also in townships and informal settlements, are worst affected.The difficulties this group faces in engaging meaningfully with the labour market will only be compounded if they are unable to gain some employment experience at least.Every additional year without a job increases the chances of an unproductive and poverty-defined future.The lack of access to quality education both at school and beyond remains at the heart of the problem.But the government alone cannot be expected to stem this national crisis.Greater collaboration between the state, business and civil society is required to find solutions.

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