Tue, Jun 28, 2022

Half South Africa’s population is under 26

Youth can change political will and shift interests in their favour. 

South Africans are no strangers to rising unemployment and bad pay challenges. If youth fail to use their political voice they will continue having inadequate protections within the system.

Youth Grievances – Where do they go?

Mostly nowhere.

Youth regularly leave comments on Keep Climbing pretty much begging for assistance. Others who are employed or registered learners, complain bitterly about abusive and exploitative treatment.

Complaints have been forwarded to the Department of Higher Education and Training – I was told to investigate further and report back. I’m not an investigator so I didn’t.

Complaints were sent to the Department of Labour. After mails and calls with different people – someone kindly explained there’s no will and I’d have to try taking it up with the Minister directly.

With great difficulty, I’m now lobbying the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). I’ve been addressing concerns with them since January but progress is slow. The EFF is not yet on top of how youth become compromised when they enter the labour market through skills development interventions.

The allegations include:

  1. Misrepresentation and misuse of the the term ‘learnership’ (eg. Claiming learners are on a learnership when they are not and vice versa)

  2. Companies unfairly dismissing learners

  3. A college that encourages learners to submit medical certificates falsely stating a disability

Youth, You Can!

Currently, if you’re young and poor and don’t know shit, the only way you get into government funded job-training (learnerships, apprenticeships) is to sell your labour (work) for an extremely low rate in order to qualify.

Have you heard how youth should be grateful for the opportunity to be trained, obtain work experience and get paid?

‘Work experience’ is actually a demand for labour, it’s not casual or benevolent (kind). Learners ability to meet the  labour demands expected of them and complete requirements for a full qualification at the same time for R1500 p/month is no mean feat.

South Africa’s young population wields considerable muscle on the policy front

IF they pressure political parties.

Use your voting power constructively, start NOW. Ensure youth interests are high on their agenda and addressed through policy and action. You must demand protections against unfair labour practices, many of which don’t only impact youth, but parents too:

  1. Unemployment
  2. Upskilling (the experienced or qualified unemployed need access to training without the imposition of labour demands)
  3. Unfair labour treatment when employed or interned:
    • unlawful learnership and apprenticeship agreements
    • unfair employment contracts
    • prejudiced recruitment practices
    • income inequality

+3Mil 21 – 25 year olds running out of time

NEETs are young people who are Neither in Employment, nor Education or Training.

The largest group of NEETs are 21 – 25-year-olds, coming in at a massive 51%. This means more than half of those in this particular age group are stuck, currently not involved in actions that would help secure a future.

nearly 10.2 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years

33% are NEET = 3 366 000 (3 million 3 hundred sixty-six thousand)

Policy Demands

These points are based on feedback received from readers, consulting work and learners who have registered complaints on Keep Climbing.

  1. Your party must increase youth access to technological resources and training.

  2. The party you vote for must increase opportunities for micro and small business development

  3. Vote for a party that has a plan to strengthen cooperative banking and the micro finance sector to improve access to finance

  4. Tell your party they must increase business funded study opportunities in rural and peri-urban communities

  5. Tell your Councillors stipends are too low at R1500 and that you will only vote for them if they are committed to changing this

Organise youth in your area and set up meetings with all political parties. Make them prove they understand how to address these issues or don’t vote for them.


If you’re an employer or training provider, policy writer or politician, please read the Siyakha Report on the UJ website:

SIYAKHA YOUTH ASSETS Youth assets for employability: An evaluation of youth employability interventions

If you’re interested in voting patterns, this is for you:

Punching below their weight: Young South Africans’recent voting patterns


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