What do young people want in order to be empowered? - Youth Capital

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What do young people want in order to be empowered?

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The appointment of young ministers into South Africa’s 6th democratic administration may be a sign that the government values the views of young people. Following this, Activate! and LeadSA, quite fittingly, hosted a Twitter discussion on the same day that President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the second SONA for 2019. Youth Capital was excited to be a part of the two-hour long Twitter chat themed #Empowered2empower.

High rates of unemployment were obviously top of mind for young people. More specifically, the latest figures show that the unemployment rate of those both with and without Matric is comparable at over 50% , but this drops to half amongst post-school graduates [1]. This points to the fact that education levels do play a significant role in the employment prospects of young people. @Prince_Tshalz agreed with this idea by saying, “…I think we need to have a wide and interactive curriculum that opens up what’s available to young people and they choose…”. An alternative choice young people raised to being formally employed, is becoming an entrepreneur. Many tweets called for support for young entrepreneurs. @slow_mpele said that the support should be through the community “…forcing those big businesses in our hoods to procure at least 10% of their stock from local producers”.

However, being an entrepreneur is not for everyone- as raised by @TheChubbyMega –“… but not everyone is an entrepreneur that we must understand…”. For those who do not want to be entrepreneurs, the barriers to accessing employment need to be removed. One such barrier is the cost of job seeking- it costs a young person around R550 a month to look for work [2]. Another barrier young people face is their lack of social capital- @LeratoM95 said, “…[y]oung people need to be supported when they come up with ideas and referred to the right people when they need advice in terms of their future because not every young person is business minded or made for the office. There is an urgent need for career guidance”.

Young people called for policy reform to address the barriers. They were quick to note that what first needs to be addressed is that many young people find policy documents inaccessible. @Prince_Tshalz noted that we “…can start by breaking down the entire policy making system into sizeable bites, without the jargon and verbosity. Also educating us [young people] on policy implications and how we can influence policy… ”. We hope that future work between Activate! and Youth Capital to create infographics of existing policies, will help to shed some light on the gaps between policies and young peoples’ lived experiences.

At the end of the discussion, there was a recurring hope that these tweets would make their way to the ears of the President and translate to tangible change to shift gears for this generation of young South Africans.


Amongst those aged 15 – 24 years.

1. Statistics South Africa. Quarterly Labour Force Survey Quarter 1: 2019. (2019). Available:
2. Graham L, Patel L, Chowa G, Vera RM de, Khan Z, Williams L, Mthembu S. Siyakha Youth Assets Report. (2016). 


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