Qualified and unemployed

| Nwabisa Pondoyi
An unemployed youth with his degree.

With almost 53% of its youth unable to find work, South Africa is facing one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world, far higher than in comparable countries. While the International Labour Organisation (ILO) gives the youth unemployment rate as around 12% in sub-Saharan Africa and around 28% in North Africa, these high percentages are still far lower than they are in South Africa.

According to Statistics South Africa a tertiary education, in particular a university degree, increases the likelihood of finding employment.

StatsSA found that one in two of the 4,7 million persons unemployed in the second quarter of 2013 had not completed matric.The unemployment rate among graduates was 5,2%, and that of persons with other tertiary qualifications (diplomas or certificates) was 12,6%. In contrast, the rate was 30,3% among those without matric.

But a degree or diploma is not a golden ticket to getting a job and many graduates are unemployed.

Sibusiso Mahlangeni, an unemployed post-graduate, said: “Education has lost its value: you find uneducated people who earn more than people who are educated because they [the uneducated] have more experience. Not only that, you find that people who are not educated have jobs and the ones who are, are unemployed.”

During his State of the Nation Address in Cape Town last year, President Jacob Zuma said: “… the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality persists, despite the progress made. Africans, women and the youth continue to suffer most from this challenge.”

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in his budget speech in the National Assembly earlier this year, said the Treasury will go ahead with its stalled youth wage subsidy, having secured sufficient support from the rest of the government and other stakeholders.

“I acknowledge the government has tried combating unemployment by introducing internship programmes”, Mahlangeni said, “but what happens after the 12 month internship?”

According to the Western Cape government, the youth wage subsidy programme is aimed at providing unemployed youth, aged 18 to 35 years, with a Matric or equivalent qualification, the opportunity to engage in a six-month work experience programme.

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TOPICS:  Education

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