Black youth finding it hard to get employment

Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

Young black people in South Africa find it more difficult to get employment than the youth of any other race.

This despite claims that policies such as affirmative action make it difficult for white people to get jobs in the country.

A South African Young Persons Survey (SAYPS), conducted by the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) and the Centre for Applied African Microeconomic Research at Wits, has shown that when it comes to unemployment among young people race, gender and geographic location matter.

Young blacks tend to be jobless for longer periods than young people of other races, the study found.

It also showed that young black women without a matric or equivalent were jobless for longer than those with better educational qualifications.

And that young black rural women are jobless for longer than those in urban areas.

If you are a young black woman in Polokwane you have an 88percent chance of being unemployed.

According to the survey young people consider self-employment risky, preferring to be formally employed.

The survey also confirmed that last year the official unemployment rate for young people aged 15 to 24 was 50,2percent.

"This is almost double the general unemployment rate of 25,5percent. Add those who have given up looking for work and the unemployment rate for young people expands to 65,2 percent.

"These numbers are staggeringly high," said CDE director Ann Bernstein yesterday.

The SAYPS survey confirms the high employment rates recorded by official Labour Force Surveys.

The survey was conducted in Johannesburg, Polokwane and eThekwini between July and November last year.

It traced the histories of more than 1000 young people - almost all of them black - between the ages of 20 and 35 from their 15th birthdays onwards.

The study suggests that in order to improve the employment prospects of young people and young Africans in particular, policy makers should among other things:

l Work to achieve higher rates of economic growth to absorb more young people into the formal economy;

l Dramatically improve education and training;

l Significantly enlarge the existing 'expanded public works' scheme.