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Our Viewpoint | 8 November 2023

The youth unemployment crisis is a ticking time bomb.

As the matric class of 2023 sit for their final examinations, it marks the culmination of at least 12 years of dedication and hard work within South Africa’s schooling system.

The journey has been filled with late-night study sessions and sacrifices made not only by the pupils themselves but also by their teachers, schools and families.

However, as we commend their efforts, we must also zoom in on the issue of access to further education and training opportunities.

Youth unemployment remains distressingly high and should be a cause for national concern.

It is heartbreaking that many children exit the school system with a certificate in hand but no meaningful study or job opportunities.

In a time marked by economic challenges, as highlighted by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, we find ourselves balancing the need for cost-cutting measures with the imperative of investing in our youth’s future.

In his 2023 state of the nation address President Cyril Ramaphosa described youth unemployment as a national crisis that “demands urgent, innovative and co-ordinated solutions” that will deliver two million jobs for young people within the decade.

However, in presenting the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, Godongwana said government is left with no choice but to cut back on its job-creation programme,

specifically the country’s public works programmes, in order to continue funding the 650 000 jobs per year target set by the Presidential Employment Stimulus programme.

It’s a classic case of taking from Peter to pay Paul, with devastating consequences in terms of overall employment figures. We cannot afford to stifle the aspirations of our youth for any longer.

The youth unemployment crisis is a ticking time bomb.

Government should be playing a pivotal role in creating an enabling environment for businesses to invest in youth training and employment.

Every job counts and it counts now.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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