Addressing Unemployment :In South Africa, the pervasive challenge of unemployment casts a shadow over the lives of many, regardless of age. Whether within our families or among friends, it’s likely that we know someone who is struggling to secure a job. In some cases, it’s not due to a lack of effort or qualifications but rather a complex web of obstacles. The longing of the jobless is simple: to wake up each morning with the opportunity to earn an honest living and, in doing so, contribute to their nation.
Recent data offers a glimmer of hope as it reveals a slight dip in the country’s unemployment rate. Statistics South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey reports a decrease from 32.9% in the first quarter to 32.6% in the second quarter of 2023. Although the decrease is marginal, it’s worth noting that 154,000 new jobs were created in the second quarter, bringing the number of employed individuals to 16.3 million. This offers hope to those who may have felt disheartened by their job search.
Yet, the journey to finding employment remains challenging and is often compounded by the financial burden job seekers face. As they strive to secure jobs, many borrow money to visit internet cafes for job searches and applications, print out CVs, and deliver applications to potential employers. After numerous CV revisions, online applications, and the completion of Z83 forms, hope and confidence can waver when the long-awaited job interview invitation doesn’t arrive.
Despite these challenges, South Africans are resilient and resourceful. They adapt, sometimes taking any available job to make ends meet. Others go even further, initiating innovative businesses that transform their local communities and provide jobs and training to others.
The South African government, while criticized for its handling of the unemployment crisis, is taking steps to address the issue. One of these steps includes the employment of people with disabilities through the Presidential Working Group on Disability, which aims to increase funding for disability-related programs and services, including education, training, and employment.
To tackle youth unemployment, the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI) was introduced in 2020, securing at least 135,000 earning opportunities for young people. The Department of Employment and Labour offers invaluable support to job seekers, providing tips for job hunting and guidance on completing the Z83 form. Additionally, it offers career counseling and interview preparation services at no cost.
Mobile employment centers are available to assist job seekers in signing up for the Employment Services System of South Africa (ESSA), a platform that connects job seekers with available opportunities for free.
Several government initiatives are aimed at boosting youth employment, such as Gauteng’s “Nasi Ispan” (“Here is work”) mass recruitment program. The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), in operation for nearly two decades, provides labor opportunities and income to impoverished households.
Government policies, like the Poultry Masterplan, have also made an impact, leading to the creation of 750 jobs at a Rainbow Chicken facility. Measures to protect the local poultry industry, including anti-dumping duties on imported poultry, have led to revitalization and investments in the sector.
South African government is not just voicing its commitment but actively working to support its determined citizens who refuse to give up in the face of adversity.