Empowering Youth and Resolving Youth Unemployment

Are we wasting what could be SA’s greatest asset – our young people?

This topic contains 1 reply, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Thabiso Naleli KaNgwenya 2 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #26942

    sylvia hammond

    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 http://www.statssa.gov.za/?page_id=1854&PPN=Report-03-19-01) 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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  • #26955

    I understand the dilemma in which business is dumped, specifically in a difficult economic climate as is currently the case. However, it is my opinion that soft skills training needs to be incorporated in any tertiary training that is offered. I also believe that business can focus on creating a specific culture at their respective businesses and that new employees needs to undergo an intensive induction period prior to ‘start’.

    Together with this, team alliances are crucial. the new employee should know and understand what is expected and how he/she should engage into the new challenge.

    I focus on team and relationship coaching and maybe a 2 day practical workshop with members of the team in which the new employee will work, might improve the situation.

    Some incentives also need to be considered. It could be something else than a monetary ‘reward’.

    More and more I hear about the çoncept of ‘entitlement’ with which young people enter the world of work, so it might be worth the effort to explore some induction coaching for them to understand what will be expected.

    Feel free to contact me at susan@thelivingghoen.net for more information.

    Enjoy a wonderful Workers Day!


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  • #26954

    In the eternal exploration for mechanisms to facilitate the better selection of new employees, we have researched a system that has been designed, built applied and tested to identify what are called the environmental characteristics of candidates using the employer’s profile as the benchmark.

    The system, known as Functional Auditing, uses 24 constructs to define the spectrum of characteristics. The candidate completes an online questionnaire. The employer will have had to complete the same questionnaire which is normally “averaged” by those in the management that profess to define the environmental values of the organization. This forms the benchmark. It is thus not a floating standard, but is employer dependent.

    This process very quickly and at low cost will sort the applicants at the early stage of review of the CV and well before interview stage. Thus time is not wasted trying to evaluate the hidden traits that are so easily disguised by impression management.

    It is not based on the traditional psychometric test process which uses what we call social norms compliance (whatever they are).

    My disrespect for such testing results from the experience of countless cases of where the employee/employer relationship has failed soon after recruitment. Regrettably, the industry has been mesmerized by the psychometric testing process.

    It continues to fascinate me on the frequency that job specifications call for all the top characteristics that a candidate must have in the “soft” skills category, and where the employer has not the slightest ability to evaluate them. Most of them are a cut and paste exercise onto the job spec from the HR library.

    For further info on Functional Auditing  (FA) you can contact me on chris@engineerplacements.com

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  • #26953

    Bernard Botha

    I know I will most probably be strung from the nearest lamp post; I have read the extract from Karen Deller and cant improve in any way on her contribution.  That is the reality outside.  I tried to get a skills development programme for artisans going but there was absolutely no interest, the only questions I received was how much are you going to pay me and does it include a car allowance.  When told that it actually involves hard physical labour with minimal pay I was told in no uncertain terms what to do with myself.

    Over the weekend I chanced upon a TV series made in Britain in 2005 called Bad Lads Army where a group of 30 juvenile delinquents (all with criminal records) are taken on a 1950’s style National Service training course to see if any of them are possible officer material.  Seven were kicked off or withdrew voluntarily and 9 of the 30 were selected as possible officers.  That gives a success rate of 33 % – just imagine if we could achieve a success rate of that order.

    I also did my national service (not in Britain but here in SA) and watching this series made me think if we should not re-introduce a from of national service?  We have a crisis with insufficient artisans being trained and an even greater shortage of capable trainers, those old-style artisans who could “orient” and train an apprentice have all been retrenched.  If the army could train more than a million men from scratch in 1939 surely we can run a similar exercise with our large surplus of unskilled youth?

    I think we need a change in attitude from our unskilled labour force – put them through a basics style orientation course before they embark on any tertiary studies/

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  • #26952

    sylvia hammond

    Thank you Susan, Chris, and Bernard for three very different solutions.

    Susan I absolutely agree with you about soft skills and from experience I am thinking that business communication, business emails, memos, etc should be added.

    Chris that is so interesting and I’m not sure if you’ve seen the latest reports from Harambee, who are saying that the traditional recruitment is the problem – looking for a track record that won’t be there and missing the potential.

    Bernard co-incidentally I listened to a report on why Leicester City have been so successful and one of the points made is that have spent about a third of what Man U have spent.  But what they did was look for the overlooked talent – the “dirty dozen” sort of concept, and then knitted the men into a team.  it seems that often the young men in trouble are the ones trying to make something of the situation rather than just accepting it.

    Interested to see what other comments we receive.

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  • #26951

    I would like to thank Sylvia for raising this critical topic, and also for the critical respondents. I work in a Further Education and Training (F.E.T.) College and I relate keenly to the skills challenge which is being dealt with. We receive youth from all over the country to attend our campus.

    What I feel is profoundly missing from employers’ awareness, as has been evidenced when  colleges try to place diploma graduates into internships; is a level of tolerance. Soft skills have to run both ways. The historic underdevelopment of South Africa’s socio-economics is at the core of the tensions and could never have been “fixed” in a mere 22 years. The complexity of challenges that the majority of the youth in SA live with, is beyond an average employer’s grasp. sometimes even when they’re an N.P.O. based in a township.

    Youth seeking employment are going to be “rough around the edges” for the foreseeable future because the economy we live is has not yet strengthened every social environment. But we should harness  and nurture youth potential. We should definitely continue doing, as all here have commented, to enable ALL youth with technical and soft skills. “Business as usual” has to change, to enable and include all South Africa’s youth. Why can “Business” not strengthen its own understanding of a social contract with the consumer, which happens to be the majority of unemployed youth as well. 

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  • #26950

    karen deller

    Where are the voices of the youth?  I would like to hear from them:

    What do they think wish they knew about the working world?  

    Why do they enter the work place with attitudes employers see?  

    What do they think the working world could do differently to accommodate them?

    what do they find strange and alien about the working world?

     Maybe the 5 day week, 47 weeks a year model is not what they aspire to.  Maybe they would like different things from the workplace that if we just knew about we could adapt.  If we don’t hear from them it is just our thoughts about what is best for them.  (And that can’t be ideal)

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  • #26949

    sylvia hammond

    Thank you Jay and Karen for both adding further dimensions of the question.

    Jay, your comment about employer soft skills is interesting.  It made me think about my nearly 30 years of mainly corporate employers.  The workplace as I know it – is not a sugar-candy place.  The execs are interested in the bottom line. Management is a competitive non-supportive place.  In those days the challenge was sexism and I was unusual as I moved up the levels. I have personally been threatened, intimidated, and sexually harassed. In addition, I have heard horrendous stories of initiation in workshop contexts, bullying of gay employees, and sexual harassment of women factory workers by male supervisors – and of junior female lawyers by their seniors.  

    So what can youth expect of the workplace? It occurs to me that in our context with our history, it would be easy to come to entirely the wrong conclusion about the way an employee is treated.

    Maybe it’s not the youth who need the induction programme – it the workplace hosts.

    Karen, I will ask Alan if he could do something on our http://www.thecareersportal.co.za site to see if he can get some answers from young people. 

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  • #26948

    Thank you Jay, I am from a township and I have an NPO that deals with youth unemployment. I have a programme that specifically deals with building a career portfolio and job readiness skills for unemployed young people to enhance their skills of workplace and choosing the right career since they are unemployed.

    My very big concern is the youth is ready to participate on the programme, but the Government doesn’t support my project with resource to give this skills to youth.

    So our officials are failing us as community servant to serve the youth.

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  • #26947

    So true, Thabiso! Maybe some workshops to government officials about what is actually needed IN the world of work is some sort of solution. I agree with you, maybe the problem starts with government and their attitude towards work, the workplace and productivity?

    I can recommend a website, Funds for NGO’s if you are interested. They provide a variety of funding options from international funders, as well as clear and free guidance as to how to apply. Maybe you can have a look.

    Further more, have you tried the CSR pages of large corporations? I know SABMillar do incredible work, so does Woolworths.


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  • #26946

    Let me start by saying I have been participating in a tertiary college leadership & self-development programme that assist the learners to develop ‘self’ skills. I do not have statistics to back up my story because I am responding from ‘my head’ instantaneously after reading the responses above. What I think are the strengths of the programme have been to immerse the learners/students into looking into the deeper sense of ‘who am I’, ‘what is success’, “what is my work”, “How do I Add Value” as curriculum based content for their four year degree. I understand that the structure was put in place after the tertiary institution asked ‘industry’ what is required of a graduate coming into the work space. All I can say is that the majority are said to have found employment yet I also feel that the conversation is one sided in that it asks of industry of what is required and we frame students on that rather than it being a two way conversation of inclusive ‘dominant’ voice of industry and the ‘marginalised’ voice of the student. I am assuming that if we are shifting paradigms we will not succeed by meeting the needs of one by coercing the other. This shift is not easy. The industry is profit based and not agency based to change the society or young people, rather it is the young people who should fit the industry’s one size fits all model.It looks like that is the reality from my mis-informed perspective and surely there are explanations why it is why it is like this however turning the tide requires difficult conversations that are inclusive and not one side is the one to blame in fixing such a complex generational issue.

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  • #26945

    sylvia hammond

    Lawrence, thank you for your response.

    I do agree with your assessment that business has the view the learners must simply fit in.

    Equally as Susan says there is a question about whether government officials really understand the demands and the challenges of the workplace.

    Certainly, I would question the workplace experience of many of the officials involved in the development of qualifications, policies, and administration.

    It is also unfortunate – in my view – that the people able to participate are full-time specialists of the multi-national and national corporations. Although they represent a large percentage of employees, they do not represent the requirements of medium to small and micro business.  

    This is unfortunate because these small businesses are in fact the engines of employment growth – the multi-national organisations being obsessed with productivity and lean management practices. 

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  • #26944

    sylvia hammond

    Hi Thabiso, who have you approached for support? 

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  • #26943

    Hi Susan I have approached the Ekurhuleni Municipality.

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