Socioeconomic exclusion is youths' biggest challenge

To resolve youth unemployment, we need a different approach which emphasises the need for diverse education and skill capabilities, the writer says.
To resolve youth unemployment, we need a different approach which emphasises the need for diverse education and skill capabilities, the writer says.
Image: poverty by 123rf \ nito500

The primary challenge encountered by youths in SA is socioeconomic exclusion. This challenge is documented in several research reports and public policy discussions.

There are two essential indicators of this socioeconomic exclusion - high youth unemployment and low levels of sustained youth entrepreneurship.

Race, class and gender inequalities shape how young people experience socioeconomic exclusion. Therefore, it is important to examine youth socioeconomic exclusion using an intersectional method.

The conventional approach of viewing the youth as a homogenous social stratum, with no social differentiation, is not useful.

The state should develop the research capacity to comprehend how social differentiation shapes different experiences of youth socioeconomic exclusion. This is essential for introducing effective youth development interventions.

Youth unemployment cannot be resolved without addressing the structural causes of this phenomenon. The most significant one is the one-dimensional approach to education and skills development.

It is premised on the needs of a financial and business service sector-led economy. This approach has failed to resolve persistent youth unemployment.

We need a different approach which emphasises the need for diverse education and skill capabilities. Young citizens' employment potential must not be limited to the sectors described above.

There are ample labour absorption opportunities in other sector value chains. These opportunities cannot be accessed without a shift in the national youth education and skills development paradigm. The state requires a different approach to education and skills development.

Another important factor is managing the links between skills development and the transition to employment. Young people exit the nation's education and skills development system at different points.

The persistent youth unemployment trends suggest that these transitions are not managed efficiently and, in some cases, youths exit the system without completing training.

SA needs an effective national transitions management system, which tracks youth transitions. This system should operate across different skills development institutions and involve various stakeholders.

The main aim of the proposal is to create effective transitions into employment and develop adequate support measures for young people who exit the system prematurely without acquiring necessary skills.

This proposition requires research and collaboration between state and non-state organs. Youth development policy-makers can also identify essential lessons from international case studies such as the German vocational training system.

Youth entrepreneurial development is stymied by structural impediments in the political economy.

The main barriers include the following trends: limited access to finance, market concentration and entry barriers, high input costs (electricity, data and transport) and uneven spatial development. The high-inputs costs for young entrepreneurs require dedicated attention, especially electricity, data and transport costs.

Several interventions should be advanced in the state's growth strategy to address youth challenges. These should include transforming development finance institutions so that they become more accessible to young entrepreneurs.

*Mabasa is a policy researcher and thought leader

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