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Unemployed young people spend R1 000 a month searching for jobs

An unemployed South African man holds a self-made advertising board offering his services at a traffic intersection. NIC BOTHMA EPA

An unemployed South African man holds a self-made advertising board offering his services at a traffic intersection. NIC BOTHMA EPA

Published May 14, 2022


Cape Town - The majority of young South African job seekers are spending up to R1 000 a month looking for employment and most of the time they are not successful.

This was revealed in a research report by the youth-led advocacy campaign Youth Capital. An amount of R500 is spent on data and up to R500 on transport. There are also photocopy and printing fees which can vary around R250.

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The survey had 2 200 respondents, most of whom were looking for work at the time it was conducted. Most of the respondents said they were assisted financially by family members and sometimes friends. Forty-four percent said they spent over a year looking for employment – 33% less than six months and 23% more than six months.

The pandemic which started over two years ago led to lockdowns and the increased use of online platforms for job seeking. Hand-delivered applications are still common in many places, as are face-to-face interviews despite the technology available to many.

Luvuyo Memani from Strand, which is 45km from the Cape Town CBD, said a taxi from his place to the CBD cost R35.

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“That is only a single trip, then another R35 for me to return home, excluding food.

“I have lost count of how many times I have had to go for interviews only to not get the job after being shortlisted.”

When trains were still available, R35 was enough for Memani to book a return trip as he would walk to the station.

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“Unlike Khayelitsha and other places, we do not have the luxury of services like MyCiTi and Golden Arrow buses. Minibus taxis are our only option.”

He said sometimes he is faced with choosing between buying food and trying his luck on the job market. “Family members are not always supportive, and I understand that times are tough for everyone.”

Youth Capital revealed that more than 9.2 million young people in South Africa are not in employment, education or training. The majority of this group are black African, income-poor, have no post-school education, and live in households in which nobody works.

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Unemployment is one of the major issues facing the country and is an underlying aggravating factor fuelling tensions between locals and foreign nationals.

Groups such as Operation Dudula have been formed as a desperate measure by locals to try to curb the unemployment rate. The group is advocating for businesses to prioritise locals for job opportunities.

Sivuyile Mazwi, a 29-year-old man from Khayelitsha, has been working in the retail industry ever since his retrenchment in June 2020 and finding employment has proved to be a difficult task.

“I use a lot of money if I am not making copies of documents and I am travelling to submit CVs. I only have matric and work experience. I travel with people that hold qualifications and they too find the going tough.”

There have been interventions by both the government and other organisations, such as bringing internet for free to communities, but this has brought little change.

South Africa does not only have unreliable transport, but data costs are high when compared with other developing countries. The economic situation in the country does not look promising – instead of creating more job opportunities, people are being retrenched.

The study by Youth Capital indicates that eight out of 10 young people who took the survey said that they had to choose between looking for work and going for interviews, and buying food.

“We need to support young people by making opportunities more visible and more accessible – like through zero-rated or low data platforms,” said Kristal Duncan-Williams, project lead at Youth Capital.

“But we also need to have services in communities where young people can get in-person support because we know that just having access to online platforms is not enough. is an example of a zero-rated platform. We need more employers to make use of this platform and for more young people to sign up and access the resources.”

Weekend Argus

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