Opinion: Youth must face truth about the future, not promises of politicians

The legacy left SA by the 1976 youth was  the gift of freedom, of human rights enshrined in a constitution based on equality, democracy and social justice. The youth of today need pick up the baton. 
      /  ALON SKUY
The legacy left SA by the 1976 youth was the gift of freedom, of human rights enshrined in a constitution based on equality, democracy and social justice. The youth of today need pick up the baton. / ALON SKUY

The month of June is that time of the year in South Africa when politicians pontificate about the youth.

This is the month when the youth are promised many things, just as they were showered with more promises in the past.

It is important for young people to take a break from the hot air of politicians to face the truth about the future.

The bitter truth is that life will be tougher for young people in SA. The time of big mining companies sinking new shafts in Johannesburg and seeking thousands of miners will never come back.

Gone is the time when thousands of black people flocked from rural areas hoping to find employment at factories in Vanderbijlpark, Germiston, Ekandustria or such other industrial zone.

In short, there will never be a diamond or gold rush in SA again. World trends suggest that, in future, jobs will never come from gigantic plants with long assembly lines.

What this means is that we could be entering a future in which it will be possible for a young person to spend his whole life without work. Already 50% of young South Africans are unemployed.

It is true that unemployment chiefly affects black youth. White young people own their own companies, or are managers or skilled technicians in factories owned by their white cousins.

You can scream transformation all you like; even black people who own supermarkets in rural areas and townships employ their relatives before they bring someone from outside.

The reality for black youth is that if your BEE brothers cannot create employment for you, no one will.

In a political climate where corrupt black politicians dish out insults against what they call "white monopoly capital", why must whites in SA spend sleepless nights worrying about jobs for black people?

The sad thing is that the politicians who mouth slogans like "radical economic transformation" don't know how to build a simple factory. All they know is to steal money from Eskom with the Guptas. By the way, Eskom was established by an Afrikaner scientist called Hendrik van der Bijl.

For black South African youth to have employment in the future, they will need to have their own black Van der Bijls who can set up a factories from scratch.

Unless and until we have an engineer by the name of Prof Dlomo who can organise human and material capital into a firm that produces the cellphones black people use, there will be no jobs for young black people.

There are economists who entertain the sky hook called "services economy" as the end of economic history.

The thing called "services economy" as the apogee of man's civilisation is a bour-geois fiction, manufactured to dupe the poor into believing that, if they continue to serve the rich diligently, they too will someday graduate to sit side by side with their master at the same table.

The fact is that for as long as humankind exists, some among us will have to wear overalls to toil in the factories that produce the spoons, the phones and blankets that people use in their daily lives.

Today this kind of manufacturing takes place in China, South Korea, Germany and such other places. These countries do it not because God blessed them with clever citizens, but because they put in place the necessary conditions for their people to do what they do.

This means that if we hope to create employment for our young people, we must figure out what needs to be done today to prepare for such a future. In other words, we must ask: What will it take to enable black people to build a factory to manufacture cellphones in the next 10 years?

The honest truth is that the politicians who blew hot air on June 16 have no idea how new jobs in future will be created. They are not aware of the economic changes that are taking place in the world today, and how such developments affect South Africa.

A young person must be asking, "What must I do to prepare myself for the tough future ahead?"

Here is an honest answer: If you are at school or university, study hard and seek to know more than what is prescribed by your teachers. Only the highly skilled and knowledgeable will enjoy the fruits of the economy of the future.