Here in South Africa, we celebrate “Youth month” every June, to commemorate the sacrifices made by the youth of this country in building the freedoms that we currently enjoy. June the 16th has special significance for us, because it commemorates the start of the Soweto riots of 1976 that highlighted the brutality of the Apartheid system.
26 years on, the challenges facing the youth today are of a different kind.
According to the Mail and Guardian newspaper, more than 50% of 18- to 25-year-olds are unemployed. Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary of the trade union Cosatu, says that 73% of people who are unemployed are below the age of 35.
This is truly South Africa’s ticking time bomb. There is a a clear lack of education, shortage of skills and the challenge of lack of experience that youth have to face up to.
The key to getting South Africa’s youth working is to instill a culture of entrepreneurship in them. Trying to find jobs in the formal economy is clearly not working. I applaud the government and other stakeholders for taking the right steps to alleviate the situation.
Here are some resources if you would like to join the movement:
National Youth Development agency:
This agency aims at creating and promoting coordination of youth development matters
Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP)
The GEP is a provincial government agency which provides non-financial and financial support to Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises in Gauteng.
The Youth and Graduate Entrepreneurship Development program (known as Y-AGE) is a collaborative partnership which attempts to practically stimulate a sustainable entrepreneurial culture here in South Africa. The program involves training, financial and mentorship support for young graduates in taking their first steps in Entrepreneurship.
Small Enterprise Development Agency:
Seda’s mandate is to implement the government’s small business strategy. The aim is to design and implement a standard and common national delivery network for small enterprise development.
Let’s hope that the stakeholders are able to agree on the details of the Youth Wage Subsidy, to encourage businesses to get our youth into jobs and working and that the Education Department is able to sort out their difficulty in getting textbooks to schools.
On a lighter note, I would like to congratulate individuals who made the Mail and Guardian’s “200 Young South Africans” list. It is truly inspiring to see what the Youth of South Africa are capable of.
July, here we come…