Addressing South Africa’s Unemployment Issues

Zapiro hits the nail on the head

Zapiro hits the nail on the head

My super smart girlfriend has made it increasingly difficult for a starving creative to continue to pen and publish articles on “unintellectual” topics such as the arts. For us to continue to have an intellectual common ground one needs to start to articulate on topics such as politics and the economy (Simphiwe’s disapproving frown ignored at this point) so as to conceal the intellectual gap and  ultimately sacrifice my passion for the arts for a good woman. So here I go and remember this attempt at intelligence was done in the name of love.

Statistics released by the Institute of Race Relations show that 51% of South Africans aged between the ages of 15-29 are unemployed. This effectively means half of South African’s young minds are economically inactive.

In this age group, the number of unemployed African women (oh yeah I’m allowed to say black clearing throat; black women) is 63% of the total. Each and every year, there are large numbers of young people who are passing their matric year with no clear direction of how they will find employment opportunities afterwards. We have hundreds of thousands of young people applying at higher learning institutions not for an opportunity to learn but rather as a form of escape from staying at home and chilling. I’ve encountered plenty of young people studying and applying for courses they know nothing about nor that particularly interested in.

Youth are confused at which "dreams" to chase

Youth are confused at which “dreams” to chase. Banksy proves this point

The well documented incident by students and parents which took place earlier this year outside the University of Johannesburg premises’ indicates the level of desperation as well lack of information amongst pupils and parents. This led to the death of a parent due to a desperate mass of prospective students fighting to be able to apply for tertiary education.  Due to a lack of understanding and knowledge most students think that going to university is the best (if not the only) option.

There seems to be a myth and perception that in order to be employed or employable a university degree is necessary.  Such perceptions are deeply rooted in our society, especially amongst the black population.

While universities are full to their capacity, on the other hand, Further Education and Training (FET) colleges across the country need students to fill classrooms and utilize the bursary opportunities SETAS and government provide. Even after an FET college beat Pirates the numbers remained stagnant.
Unemployment doesn’t only affect grade 12 qualified school leavers but contrary to the myth university graduates as well. The South African Graduate Development Association has indicated that between 30% to 50 % of university students are unable to find jobs after they graduate nationally. The South African Graduate Development Association (SAGDA) continue to say that graduates are the fastest growing group swelling the numbers of the unemployed. The alarmingly high drop-out rate, the lack of career advice, and inappropriate study choices were some of the major reasons for the growing unemployment rate among graduates.

What is further puzzling is that according to figures from the Department of Higher Education and Training, funding for FET colleges increased from R3.8-billion in 2010 to R4.8bn last year. This amount is expected to rise further in 2013. What’s more, bursaries allocated to students at FET colleges also increased significantly, from R318-million in 2010 to R1.75bn last year. Despite all the time and money government is spending to turn FET Colleges into the backbone of its strategy to increase access to tertiary education, it seems that a negative attitude towards them, prevails.

For example, according to statistics, South Africa has a shortfall of about 40 000 qualified artisans against the annual production rate of 13 000 qualified artisans. Yet people continue to get unemployable university qualifications such humanities degrees. A variety of strategies have been introduced by government including declaring 2013 The Year of the Artisan, with the slogan “It’s cool to be an Artisan” (talk about lame). Yet students continue to flood universities door steps with qualifications our economy can not absorb.

Will the cycle actually end?

Will the cycle actually end?

In the mean time South Africa has to look for artisans in countries such as India,’’ says Judy Rossouw, MD of personnel agency Kelly Industrial in Midrand.

Everyone wants to be a lawyer or an accountant, although we don’t need them all. Today’s young people don’t want to get their hands dirty. But good artisans can almost choose where they want to work. –  Judy Rossouw

Calima van Ellinckhuijzen of the Northlink College group in Cape Town says many young people and their parents aren’t aware there are artisan career opportunities for which they don’t have to go the university route. So you might ask how much do these artisans people earn? Here is a very short list to show you how much some Artisans earn in South Africa. These Artisans are qualified

Salary per month

R10 000 – R20 000 – Aircon Technician               
R15 000 – R25 000 – Auto Electrician                       
R10 000 – R20 000 – Boiler Maker                       
R10 000 – R20 000 – Code 14 Driver                   
R20 000 – R25 000 – Crane Technician           
R10 000 – R30 000 – Diesel Mechanic                    
R10 000 – R25 000 – Draughtsman                   
R20 000 – R40 000 – Drill Rig Operators                   
R20 000 – R40 000 – Earth Moving Mechanic                
R20 000 – R30 000 – Fitter & Turner                   
R20 000 – R25 000 – Instrument Technician                    
R20 000 – R35 000 – Millwright                   
R20 000 – R30 000 – Packaging Technician                    
R10 000 – R25 000 – Plumber                       
R20 000 – R30 000 – Radar Technician                     
R25 000 – R50 000 – Safety Mine Officer               
R10 000 – R20 000 – Sheetmetal Worker                   
R10 000 – R15 000 – Spray Painter                   
R35 000 – R45 000 – Underground Electrical Foreman               
R40 000 – R50 000 – Welder (5-7 years +)   


In closing

Sexy? Check! Degree? Check! Unemployed?... Check!!!!

Sexy? Check! Degree? Check! Unemployed?… Check!!!!

That’s way more than the R4000 per month that some media companies are offering Media Honours graduates. However, entrenched attitudes do not change overnight, and those attitudes toward FET colleges will take time to change.

FET colleges are not for losers that are not smart enough to get into varsity but rather young people smart enough to realize that there is a vast amount of unexplored employment opportunities available to them through FET programs. Until then, remain sexy and unemployed with your varsity degree.

That’s our piece and tell them you heard it from Matt “The Rat” Mkhize. 

Follow us Starving Creative or follow @Mr_MediaX


2 responses to “Addressing South Africa’s Unemployment Issues

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. We’ve heard this conversation babe!
    I must point out though that South Africa is not in this unemployment debacle alone. The PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) have 55% rate of youth unemployment. It is a big problem. Europe is celebrating its 6th year of economic recession this year. The problem will yake a while to go away, it seems and they even call this youthEurope’s lost generation’.
    What is even worse, is that they are educated, unlike we Africans. I mean an average 25 year old has a master’s degree in these European countries. Some have even two masters degrees and they are still struggling to get a job. They often get responses like ýou’re over qualified ‘or ýou lack experience’. It is rough.
    Furthermore, I really like your argument about artisans. I guess this also goes back to black culture. I will refer a lot to Europe because i have been watching a lot BBC and CNN lately.
    The German system is designed in such a way that, as far as I recall, one may decide to go to a technical school, obtain a diploma without necessarily finishing high school. These people also earn a decent income, as your table shows for South Africa. But the mentality in Europe is different. People don’t feel the need to show off, to look down upon others, to prove that they have made it out of the township. We are still a very materialistic society. And working as a welder, with your hands does not sound as attractive as saying I’m an investment banker, even though we may be earning the same amount of money!

    On a final note, I am the girlfriend who is supposedly ‘;super smart’. We’ve also had a long discussion about this. May I shed some light to the readers of the blog that I learn a lot of things from Mr. Mkhize. I actually do enjoy thier artistic posts. I have no artistic bone in my body, except dancing. (LOL), so reading about it, will
    definitely open my mind to new things. So I might just frown like Media X.

    • Lol, I’ll be more ‘arty’ babe, I also saw that “lost generation docie” on CNN very interesting Europe certainly doesn’t have it together as much as we would all believe.

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