Over 1.5 million young people have been looking for work for more than three years. Much of this is to do with the lack of economic and education opportunities in South Africa, and the barriers to accessing the ones that do exist. We also struggle to maintain the connections we manage to make. While levels of education have some effect on this, our inability to hold on to opportunity is also embedded in our intense vulnerability across areas of health, safety, wellbeing and poverty.
Make Job-Seeking Affordable.
Looking for work is expensive. As job-seekers, we spend an average of R605 monthly on looking for work (on transport, printing and data); in the majority of cases, this figure equates to nearly half of our monthly income.
To land an interview, we often have to loan money from people in our homes, which can put both financial and social strain on our families. Many of us give up looking for work permanently because the costs are just too high. We need access to resources such as reliable data, transport and career guidance.
Grow Our Circles.
Social capital is critical, but most of us have fewer than three people in our networks we could ask for job advice; and nearly half of us live in households where no one is employed.
One caring adult, one recommendation letter or one mentor can make all the difference to us! Career guidance, resources and referral networks are vital. So are the social, community and health services that keep us motivated, healthy and prepared to take on the task of job-seeking.
Bridge The Information Gap.
Employers need to recognise skills and competencies beyond the classroom and educational certificates. We also need to find other ways of demonstrating our knowledge, competencies and experience to employers. The lack of post-school qualifications shouldn’t keep us from accessing jobs and opportunities.
Employers need to think differently about how to assess our skills and potential. Meanwhile, we need to find creative ways to show-off our strengths. Otherwise, many of us will be needlessly locked out of opportunities.