Youth unemployment in South Africa: challenges, concepts and opportunities Cecil Mlatsheni and Murray Leibbrandt
Introduction A Development of youth depends very much on employment. Employment is a key factor in the transition from youth to adulthood and from dependence to independence.
Unsuccessful or prolonged transitions from school to work impose high psychological and social costs far in excess of the loss of income associated with unemployment. Even economists have come to recognise the huge long-term effects of youth unemployment, which is now often referred to as ‘scarring’ (Scarpetta et al. 2010).
The development literature discusses the plight of marginalised individuals under the theoretical construct of social exclusion as it provides a framework that is very useful in spelling out both the causes and consequences of such scarring. The term ‘social exclusion’ is attributable to Lenoir (1974).
More recently, Jordan (1996) and Sen (2000) amongst others have argued for its usefulness in augmenting material deprivation and other obvious markers of poverty and underdevelopment with less obvious impacts on the development of individuals. The quotation with which we began this article makes it clear that Sen sees long-term unemployment as one of the most obvious and important forms of social exclusion.
the difficulties of inclusion in the South African context B Promotion of entrepreneurship and especially small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) is
one of the most common recommendations coming from policy circles in the face of high levels of
unemployment. Indeed, the International Labour Organisation estimates that 93 per cent of new
jobs in Africa and virtually all new jobs for youth on the continent are generated in the informal
sector. Furthermore, results from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (Von Broembsen et al. 2006)
research project indicate that the highest prevalence of entrepreneurial activity is to be found
among 25- to 34- year-old men (20 per 100), followed by 35 to 44-year-old men (15 per 100) and
then 18 to 24-year-old men (13 per 100). There is therefore a significant representation of youth in
global estimates of entrepreneurial activity.
Youth entrepreneurial activity is relatively low at 6 per cent for youth between 15 and 30 years of
age. Evidence from South African surveys indicates that most young people are motivated to start
their own businesses because of the limited opportunities in the labour market but that
sustainability is a major constraining factor. Such sustainability is governed by a person’s intrinsic
entrepreneurial ability (which can be cultivated), availability of investment capital, risk absorption
capacity, financial management skills, enterprise development, and — very importantly — market
accessibility. South Africa’s education system and the hostile and highly concentrated market
structure leave participants short of skills in a skewed market and this impacts negatively on the
success of SMME ventures. SMMEs are not the biggest generators of employment currently;
however, with low rates of both necessity entrepreneurship (2.05 per cent) and opportunity
entrepreneurship (2.95 per cent), there is an immense potential for employment creation in this
area (Von Broembsen et al. 2006). The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (2008) reports that a small
percentage of start-up entrepreneurs can expect to create 20 jobs in their first five years of business.
The reason for this is that entrepreneurship in South Africa tends to be skewed towards low-impact,
or low-expectation entrepreneurship. This is because it is driven by necessity or the absence of other
viable sources of income rather than being driven by vision. Not many conventional new smaller
firms last up to five years, and fewer still develop into high growth firms. In view of this there have
been ongoing initiatives to promote the development and sustainability of SMMEs in South Africa.
The 2006 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reports that in South Africa adults who hold tertiary level qualifications have the potential to create employment that is 2.5 times greater than those who only completed secondary education, and 11 times greater than those who have not completed secondary education. These findings highlight the importance of education in improving youth labour market prospects in South Africa.
Unfortunately, many of the effects of the past exclusion within education are still evident as the education ministry battles to equalise quality of education and to raise the grades attained by those learners who pass. While enrolment in school, universities and Further Education and Training colleges (FETs) in some areas is pleasing, a number of factors about the education system are disconcerting.
Besides the poor performance of primary school pupils in test scores, the declining numbers of grade 12 (end of secondary schooling) candidates who pass with exemption is also troubling.
In 2002, 69 per cent of learners passed grade 12, while only 25 per cent obtained a matric (grade 12) endorsement. It is not clear that performance has improved much since then. The 2006 grade 12 national pass rate, 66.6 per cent, was lower than that of 2002, and the absolute numbers of students passing maths and science were on the decline.
troubling statistic is that, of the 1,666,980 pupils who started grade 1 in 1994, only 5 per
cent were eligible to attend university at the beginning of 2007. Two-thirds of those who were in
grade 1 in 1994 had not reached grade 12 by 2006. Most black pupils who pass mathematics and
science well enough to enter university courses in the natural sciences, engineering, medicine and
commerce still come from formerly white schools (van der Berg 2005). Furthermore, a significant
proportion of the students that are accepted into tertiary institutions fail to cope with the level of
mathematics and science offered at university. A further concern is that more teachers exit the
profession than those who enter each year. In addition, extra resources channelled into education
post-1994 have not translated into better performance (van der Berg 2005). The national school’s
curriculum is still not a resolved matter either, although relentless efforts to arrive at the best
outcome are to be commended. To the extent that these factors hamper quality of education, they
serve as obstacles to the employment of youth on the receiving end.
a number of weaknesses are clearly identifiable in the links between the
education system and education policy on the one hand and the South African strategy to promote
employment entrepreneurship on the other. A recent OECD study (Scarpetta et al. 2010) has flagged
the fundamental importance of keeping youth in touch with the labour market. This leads the
authors to advocate active policies to encourage firms to take on interns and to train on the job,
rather than to educate and train first and then look to integrate into the labour market later. All
of this is equally true in South Africa, and greater effort is needed in gearing school curricula towards
enterprise and basic monetary numeracy so as to widen the career aspirations of young people.
Links need to be created between educational institutions and industry — as envisaged, but so far
not extensively attained, by the learnership programme — so that learners can explore the
opportunities for self-employment through practical and direct involvement in local business. But
these systems are not in place right now and, given the current state of South Africa’s human capital
development system, there are dangers in promoting youth entrepreneurship as the sole policy goal
or even the main approach. We have shown that entrepreneurship is determined by opportunity
and by willingness to become an entrepreneur and that many of South Africa’s youth come into the
labour market without the necessary background and skills to capitalise on opportunities. One
cannot underestimate how this undermines the social inclusiveness of all aspects of policy towards
Identify a word in section A which is now used to describe the long-term effects of youth unemployment. (1) 2. Which scholar is commonly associated with the concept of social exclusion? (1)
3. Indicate whether the statements below are True or false. (10) a) Unemployment is a form of social exclusion. b) Social exclusion is a theoretical viewpoint. c) Economists coined the word ‘scarring.’ d) The International Labour Organisation is involved in job creation in Africa. e) Most entrepreneurial activity comes from Africa.
f) Necessity entrepreneurship and opportunity entrepreneurship is one thing. g) SMMEs play a critical role in Africa since all new jobs for youths are found in this sector. h) South African youth often start their own business because of unemployment. i) The fact that many South African youths often start their own business without skills often leads to the downfall of the business. j) SMMEs do not create much employment opportunities in South Africa.
4. Name 4 factors that govern the sustainability of a business. (4) 5. Why is there a huge potential for employment creation in the SMME sector? (2) 6. Which term in section A is opposite in meaning to “social exclusion.” (1) 7. Which word in paragraph C means the same as disturbing/troubling? (1) 8. To what does the pronoun ‘this’ refer (para E line 4; para E line 6)? (2) 9. Complete the table below by finding 3 cohesive devices from paragraph D that match each of the functions. (3)
Function Cohesive device
Language Usage Review [10 Marks] This part of the assignment assesses your understanding of morphemes and word formation processes. Read the Language Usage Review unit before attempting the questions.
The questions in this section are based on the highlighted words in the paragraph below. Another troubling statistic is that, of the 1,666,980 pupils who started grade 1 in 1994, only 5 per cent were eligible to attend university at the beginning of 2007.
Two-thirds of those who were in grade 1 in 1994 had not reached grade 12 by 2006. Most black pupils who pass mathematics and science well enough to enter university courses in the natural sciences, engineering, medicine and commerce still come from formerly white schools (van der Berg 2005). Furthermore, a significant proportion of the students that are accepted into tertiary institutions fail to cope with the level of mathematics and science offered at university. A further concern is that more teachers exit the profession than those who enter each year.
extra resources channelled into education post-1994 have not translated into better performance (van der Berg 2005). The national schools curriculum is still not a resolved matter either, although relentless efforts to arrive at the best outcome are to be commended. To the extent that these factors hamper quality of education, they serve as obstacles to the employment of youth on the receiving end.
1. Identify the free morpheme and the bound morpheme in the word below. (1) pupils 2. Rearrange the list of words below into simple, compound, and complex words. (3) furthermore, pupils, serve, channelled, another, relentless. 3. Rearrange the list below into derived words (words containing derivational morphemes) and inflected words (those with inflectional morphemes).
(2) employment, performance, receiving, schools 4. What is the function of the underlined morphemes in the words below. (2) receiving, schools 5. Explain the word formation process of the derived words below. (2) employment, performance
Text Organization [15 marks] This part of the assignment assesses your knowledge of how to organise information in the body paragraphs of academic articles, including the appropriate use of cohesive devices. Read the Text Organisation unit before attempting the questions.
Read the paragraph below and answer the following questions. If you ever get a really good idea, one that could change the world, you should get a patent to protect it. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues two types of patents: design patents and utility patents. These patents have similar purposes but function in different ways. Design patents cover appearances.
Let’s say that you developed a new and original design for an iPhone case. To protect your work, you would want to get a design patent, which would help you win lawsuits against people who sell iPhone cases that look like yours.
if you created a whole new product, like an iPhone case that recharges your phone using solar energy, then you would want to file for a utility patent. Utility patents are harder to get, but they allow you to sue those that copy the function of your product, giving you even greater protection.
1. Name the text structure used in the paragraph. (1)
2. Re-write the topic sentence of the paragraph. (1)
3. Identify the cohesive devices used in the text. (4)
4. Organise the cohesive devices into two groups according to their function (1)
5. Name the model (alternating/block) of text organisation used. (1)
6. Provide an appropriate closing sentence for the paragraph. (2)
7. Now, write your own paragraph on the causes of youth unemployment in Namibia. Your paragraph must consist of the following: 1. Topic sentence 1 2. Three supporting sentences 3 3. Two cohesive devices (underline them).