Lack of jobs for youth a ticking bomb

While unemployment has rocketed up alarmingly, a 149,000 jobs were shed in the same period, compared to the last quarter of 2018.
While unemployment has rocketed up alarmingly, a 149,000 jobs were shed in the same period, compared to the last quarter of 2018.
Image: 123RF Stock

The real work starts now. That was the message delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the nation on Monday during the ANC's election victory rally outside Luthuli House.

Ramaphosa was encouraged by his party's victory in the elections, albeit with a reduced majority. Indeed, the real work has to start now if yesterday's unemployment rate figures released by Stats SA is anything to go by.

The figures showed that unemployment surged to 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019, with the economy bleeding 237,000 jobs during the same period, statistician-general Risenga Maluleke announced.

This was an increase of 0.5% compared to the 27.1% recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Even more worrying was that the working age group population increased by 149,000 in the same period that jobs were shed, compared to the last quarter of 2018.

The graduate unemployment rate was 33.5% for those aged 15-24 and 10.2% among those aged 25-34 years.

Ramaphosa campaigned on the back of growing South Africa's economy, creating jobs and reducing inequality.

His problem in the next five years, and by extension that of the ruling party, should not be about who controls which province for self-interest but about more pressing issues like growing the economy and creating jobs.

What should bother the president and the ANC is that the country has 3.4-million young people aged between 15 and 24 who are unemployed.

For those aged between 15 and 34, the number ballooned to 8.3- million people currently not in employment, education or training.

There were 35.9-million South Africans who were eligible to vote, according to the IEC, and of this almost 9-million did not register to vote - the majority of which are first-time youth voters.

A further 9-million didn't bother to vote, leading to a low turnout at the polls. Perhaps young people didn't vote because they are truly disillusioned with a flagging economy of workplaces that are increasingly rendering them unemployable.

They may well have been expressing their frustration.

And the next five years is the time, Mr President, to address their concerns.

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