By sylviahammond, 1 May, 2016

Scarcity raises value - oversupply lowers value. Is that why we are ignoring youth unemployment? Or are there other factors, such as: youth attitudes to work, poor education, lack of discipline, poor communication skills? Why do employers continue to employ older workers?

The StatsSA report on the Social Profile of the Youth (available on provides the statistics: the youth population rose from 18,5 million to 19,6 million between 2009 and 2014 - more than a third of our population. If we actively engage healthy educated young people in productive activities, we could benefit from new ideas, and the natural creativity of youth, and economic growth. But leaving literally tens of thousands of young people not gainfully employed means that instead of reaping an economic dividend, we create an "economic timebomb".  That is the expression used by Dennis George.  

FEDUSA will be presenting proposals in NEDLAC to address youth unemployment to encourage and improve on the implementation of programmes that promote internship, learnership and apprenticeship opportunities. The expectation of FEDUSA is that business, labour and government should create enabling environments that will attract young people into starting businesses and to support entrepreneurs in the country.

So how easy is it for business to employ young people? Karen Deller has provided a description of the problems experienced.  The following is copied with her permission from her Facebook post. 

"... as an employer I have to say that many youth do not make it easy to hire them.  I know it is generational.  I know we need to be flexible and tolerant and try to guide etc. etc.  But the work ethic, attitude and expectations of many of the youth we have taken in as interns over the past few years has been so alien to our culture that it has been more disruptive than useful for the business.

I am generalizing here, but they seem to want to earn far more than they can contribute (one recent grad with zero work experience told us not to bother offering him less than R20k a month!  Needless to say we didn't), they think sick leave is a monthly entitlement and don't understand why we think it isn't, they don't want to do anything not listed specifically in job description and they cannot follow the most basic of instructions.  Everything has to be broken up into one instruction at a time, which is draining in management time. 

They can't write a basic email or letter and take offense at being corrected.  And time management is non existent.  I know business needs to help, but but can't be all one sided.  I understand I come from an older generation and things have to change, but it's my business and I have requirements, so new hires need to adapt until they can learn and then go and start their own businesses.  Then they can manage as they see fit.  (Would-be interesting to see which new hires they take on when it is there own money though).  

Maybe more workplace readiness would help?  Along with basic job skills, EQ and generational theory.  ... Maybe if every business took in 2 or 3 youth and we shared the cost of induction?"

Skills-universe members are in the main educators and trainers of adults - so this is our challenge. 

On Workers Day let's consider - what should we be doing about youth unemployment?

Please contribute practical "do-able" suggestions - what can we constructively do? We know the problems - let's not repeat them.

Let's focus on who can/should do what, where, when, how? 


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