Dire youth unemployment stats drive home the need for youth-focused employment and entrepreneurial opportunities

Gugu Mjadu
Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) last week released unemployment data for the first quarter of 2018 – showing that youth unemployment in the country has risen to 52.4% in the first quarter, from 51.1% in the last quarter of 2017. Gugu Mjadu, spokesperson for the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS believes that these findings highlight the job creation crisis we face in South Africa, and that implementing youth focussed employment initiatives and fostering entrepreneurship are key to overcoming it, particularly for the youth.

Mjadu believes that there is no time like the present for both the public and private sectors to take tangible action, and points to President Ramaphosa’s Youth Employment Service (YES) which was launched in March as one method of tackling the issue. “We need to use these, and other, platforms to get more young people into employment.  It is particularly encouraging that the YES initiative encourages small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) to also host young people in their companies as this will introduce more young people to entrepreneurship”.

“If South Africa can implement this programme effectively with the participation of SMMEs, we have a chance at addressing two of the countries key challenges, the high youth unemployment and low entrepreneurial activity. By exposing young workers to SMMEs, we will possibly contribute to them pursuing this endeavour as well and create even more employment opportunities in the future because entrepreneurship tackles the unemployment issue from two sides – it creates a job for the entrepreneur themselves, effectively opening up another space for someone else in formal employment, as well as creating a future job pipeline when and if the business grows enough to be able to hire its own staff.”