Youth unemployment, still a huge challenge in South Africa - Department of Labour

OCTOBER 14, 2014

Youth unemployment is the greatest problem facing the country having increased from 3 million in 2009 to the highest level of 3.4 million in 2013 and 2014, a Select Committee meeting in Cape Town was told last Wednesday.

Sam Morotoba, Acting Director General for Labour, said “with an unemployment rate of 25.5 percent (5 154 000 unemployed people) South Africa is faced with the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty, and inequality.

‘'The most pressing problem facing the country today is the absence of sustained economic growth and job creation, which are essential to reduce poverty and improve living conditions.’’

Morotoba said, “the survey results released recently by Statistic South Africa reflect an increase of 87 000 unemployed persons from first quarter to the second quarter of 2014. These results further show that out of the 8.3 million unemployed, 4,4 million is the youth is the youth between 15 and 34.’’ 

He said, “although there are a lot of jobs that emerge from time to time, the challenges we face are the persistent structural skills deficit informed by the mismatch between the skills acquired by the job seekers in the education system against the skills demanded by the labour market, the nature of new industries that are emerging, closure of some industries and short term job interventions without clear long term sustainable exit strategies.

The Small Medium Micro Enterprise sector is relatively underdeveloped; the country is also faced with a huge challenge of the ever growing shredding of permanent or stable employment, replaced by casual and unstable jobs.”

On the interventions made by the department, Esther Tloane, Acting Deputy Director General for Public Employment Services (PES), told the meeting that strides are being taken by the Department of Labour, along with other government departments, to remedy the situation.

Tloane said, “part of these strides include the R300 million training initiative for training unemployed beneficiaries from the Unemployment Insurance Fund in partnership with SETAs on youth, which was launched by the Minister of Labour in 2013. The initiative will target 8000 unemployed beneficiaries.”

She also shed light on the contributions by the department through Compensation Fund in partnership with, Productivity SA, National Economic and Development Labour Council as well the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

“In addition, aspects such as registration of work-seekers, vocational and career counselling and assessment of work-seekers to determine their suitability, advising work-seekers on access to education and training as well as providing specialised services to assist vulnerable workers are some of the measures pursued,” she said.