Youth Unemployment – A National Crisis

Shoutout to the Matric Class 2019. Go out there and make great things happen!🙌👏

According to the Department of Education, 787 717 candidates wrote the 2019 National Senior Certificate (NSC), comprising full and part-time students. 186 058 achieved a bachelor’s pass, 44 762 a diploma pass and 78 984 a higher certificate pass.

BUT. While the Department may glorify this as an impressive 81.3% pass rate, according to Nomsa Marchesi, DA shadow Minister of Basic Education, the “real” matric pass rate, is much lower, at only 38.9%. Why? Because in 2017, a total of 1 052 080 learners were enrolled in Grade 10, yet only 409 906 learners eventually passed Grade 12 last year. This means only 38.9% of Grade 10 learners actually wrote and passed matric. “This is for the most part due to an extraordinarily high drop-out rate, which means that hundreds of thousands of learners are denied the chance to write matric, let alone pass it. This is an indication of a dismally failing system, not a functional and successful one,” Marchesi said.

So where to from here? What happens to the kids who didn’t make it to Grade 12? What happens to the Grade 12s who didn’t pass or who won’t get a place in University to further their studies?

Youth unemployment (between the ages of 15 – 24yrs) sat at a shocking 55.2% in the first quarter of 2019. Among graduates in this age group, the unemployment rate was 31,0% during this period.

Let that sink in . . .

31.0% holding some kind of diploma/degree, sitting at home, without a job. . .

And yet . . . Several sectors in South Africa’s economy are experiencing critical skill shortages, with Technology, Engineering and Artisans topping the list.

According to a very impressive write up on youth unemployment, by Ron Geel, head of partnerships and placements at Life Choices Academy(a web development and programming bootcamp) – “South Africa is in the grip of an unemployment crisis with job opportunities at an all-time low. The country’s tech industry is facing a crisis of skills shortages and it points towards the fact that we are missing a vital cog in this equation” He said : “Most youth from low-resourced communities can’t access or afford tertiary education, nor the cost of living without earning an income for the duration of study. In addition to that, formal education is not agile enough to respond to industry needs. Perhaps we need to challenge the premise that an individual’s ability to add value to the economy is solely based on one’s ability to obtain a diploma or degree. And that youth education is solemnly a task for educational institutions. By offering the youth platforms and opportunities to ramp up their skills within industry and get paid at the same time, one could argue that we would kill two birds with one stone. Industry needs to get more involved in developing innovative models to educate and equip youth for employment in areas of high demand. The approach to partnerships should be fluid and multi-faceted, following a fresh and current perspective. This should include youth, upskilling organisations, corporate South Africa, and local government to develop an ecosystem of support which will alleviate the pressures we all are faced with. This would ensure that the system is ever evolving, on trend, and focused with the ever evolving needs of the industry at its core”

The sad truth is that South Africans, especially the youth, still haven’t fully embraced the potential of Technology and 4IR. Thinking back to ITvarsity’s recent visit to schools around KZN and Gauteng . . . too many of the students are still unaware of or don’t even know what 4IR is. When asked to fill in a questionnaire, one of the questions was : What would you like to study after school? Of the +- 500 students, many said they want to be lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, dentists, teachers or accountants. A few chose things like fashion design, interior design, agriculture and journalism. ONLY 30 said they want to go into a Tech related field. Not a single student chose an Artisan Field.

And that, my friends, is the vital missing cog that keeps the SA economic wheel from turning. . .

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