Thousands of youngsters jobless despite booming economy

Staff Reporter

Staff Reporter

The robust performance of the economy, which has grown 5percent on average year-on-year for the past few years, has done little to remedy the poor absorption of young people into the labour market.

According to official statistics, the 2006 unemployment rate for youngsters aged between 16 and 24 was no less than 50,2percent - almost double the overall unemployment rate of 25,5percent.

"Unemployment in South Africa, especially among the youth, remains stubbornly high," employment agency Kelly Industrial managing director Shaun Day said. "The surprisingly high percentage of joblessness, alongside a boom in manufacturing and industry growth, does not tally up."

While technical skills shortages are partly to blame - only 1440 apprentices registered in 2005, compared to 33000 in 1975 - Day felt that a lack of knowledge around applying for jobs could be one of the main factors contributing to the high joblessness rates among the youth.

"Job seekers, after indiscriminately sending out their CVs to all and sundry, quickly become despondent when they receive no response," Day said.

"Unemployment is highly stressful. Emotional stress can manifest itself in many ways - depression, alcohol and drug abuse, insomnia, mood swings, irritability and restlessness are common," said Day.

Job prospects were strongest in the construction, wholesale and retail sectors, according to Day, who said the demand for both artisans and engineers had increased dramatically since the 1980s, due to the decline in training initiatives.

"It's not all doom and gloom, there are a number of opportunities for job seekers.

"The artisan and trucking industries are career opportunities that need to be made attractive by industry players, educational institutions and government," he said.