As young people, we are joining an ever-growing line of job-seekers. For every 100 labour market participants each year, only 42 are able to find jobs in the formal economy. We know the economy has not been growing. So, in these tough economic times, we need to be thinking creatively about jobs, as well as the options and stepping stones that can be created for us.
All Experience Must Matter.
We need pathways that allow us to move between the informal and formal sectors by acknowledging our informal experience. Collaborations across sectors would also help build further opportunities for us.
At the same time, the job-creating potential of the social economy needs to be better understood and appreciated, so that we can gain experience and add value to our communities. We should be able to bank all this experience, and use it as a stepping-stone to future opportunities in the formal economy.
Unlock Opportunities For Us.
The government and the private sector need to boost the impact of the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI), Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) and the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). However, accessing these incentives often means that companies must meet strict criteria, and complete large amounts of complicated paperwork. Because of this, many businesses are locked out of this opportunity.
Relaxing rules around prior experience is another way of unlocking opportunities for us. The ETI, for example, was introduced to encourage employers to hire young and less-experienced jobseekers like us. Because of social and economic realities beyond our control, far too many of us struggle to find our first job. South Africa cannot afford to be adding to our obstacles! Employers must be challenged, encouraged, and supported to hire us.
Make Public Employment Work.
Public schemes are a useful way for us to gain experience and skills, but these jobs must create a pipeline to future opportunities. Those of us working in Community Works Programme (CWP) and the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) should be able to bank our experience, and use it as a stepping stone to future employment.
In 2016, 350,000 of us had work opportunities through the EPWP, including jobs like cleaning and maintaining public infrastructure. But these jobs do not link to further opportunities; instead, they are often a dead end. We need to find ways to unlock the power of these existing opportunities and make them matter.