Stats South Africa released a report entitled, “National and provincial labour market: Youth” Q1 : 2008 – Q1 : 2015. This is an annual occurrence. The report is very scary. It points to a highly explosive situation developing as youths with skills face a bleak future of permanent joblessness and poverty.
The report cried out for an immediate and substantial response from government. Nothing happened. Government which should have been seriously alarmed, had no response to make. It is so out of touch with reality.
Congress of the People, however is indeed alarmed. South African youth have too little education in general and too few skills overall to take up the few available jobs in a persistently stagnant and struggling economy. This is a double whammy and therefore a ticking time bomb.
Government is failing the economy miserably and letting down the nation’s youth dismally. As many as 3.6 million people in the 15-34 age group are totally unsuccessful in their attempts to get a job. Another one and half million are so discouraged, that they have simply given up looking for any employment whatsoever. This is nearly double the figure for 2008. That is what makes the situation so explosive. Within a year, at the current rate, half of South Africa’s youth will have no employment.
Congress of the People is very disturbed at the serial neglect of South Africa’s youth by government. Joblessness among young people on this scale is equivalent to a seething volcano ready to erupt. The government needs to implement a Marshall Plan as a matter of extreme urgency.
It is our view that government is definitely doing many things wrong to stifle the economy! Firstly, it is pursuing policies that are certainly not stimulating economic growth. Capital in large quantity is therefore either leaving the country or remaining uncommitted because of policy uncertainty and stifling regulations. Secondly, the ruling party is rapidly eroding investment confidence by continuously attacking the Constitution and showing repeated contempt for the rule of law. This is fatal for long-term investment in the country. Thirdly, its cadre deployment has crippled many state enterprises with a knock-on negative effect on the economy. Eskom, SAA, SAPO, SABC and Telkom are examples. As these parastatals routinely fail for a host of obvious reasons, government must repeatedly bail them out at the expense of infrastructure investment and job creation. Fourthly, government borrowed heavily from 2009 to the present. It did so, ostensibly, to achieve a counter cyclical effect. However, it spent little of this money on infrastructure and most of it on the consumption side. Therefore, the economic recovery did not materialise. Fifthly, on the education side, the balance sheet is even worse. The grade 12 results are mainly smoke and mirrors. The quality of education remains deplorably poor. Furthermore, skills training did not occur in quantity and quality to create a viable pool of skilled labour.
Young people, therefore, cannot get jobs. They have no medical aid. They are, in the main, without prospects of landing any decent jobs or enjoying any viable economic opportunity. Therefore, they are extremely frustrated. Instead of the government using this report to have a crisis meeting, it will neglect it as it did last year and the year before that. Everyone must recognise the acute danger of such a massive failure on the part of government.
This scary report reveals a major crisis in the making. It warrants extreme and urgent action from the government. If the government abandons our youth, something will have to give. The future looks very bleak for everyone of us as matters stand presently.
COPE wants the President and his administration to stop making empty promises and to focus on joblessness. The government must confront this reality head on and stop living in a world of make belief and sunshine stories.
The report must serve as a wakeup call to government.
Issued by Dennis Bloem on behalf of COPE