Deputy President David D. (DD) Mabuza has said that the riots and mass looting witnessed in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July had contributed to the increase in the concerning high levels of unemployment among young South Africans.
Statistics South Africa on Tuesday released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the second quarter of 2021 which showed that unemployment among the youth aged between 15 and 24 and 25 and 34 recorded the highest rates of unemployment at 64.4% and 42.9% respectively.
Answering questions at the National Council Provinces (NCOP) on Thursday, Mabuza said that the high levels of youth unemployment in the country are unacceptable and that a number of factors contributed to this, including the unrest in July which resulted in “unfortunate” job losses following the destruction of property and assets witnessed during the riots.
Mabuza said it was hoped that once the rebuilding of the malls and factories destroyed during the riots gets underway some young people, in particular, those who lost their jobs as a consequence of the unrest, will be employed.
The deputy president said Covid-19 restrictions are another hindrance to effectively addressing the high rate of unemployment, which is why it is important that the citizenry vaccinate against the disease so herd immunity can be reached and society can return to normalcy.
“So by vaccinating we are allowing our country to quickly recover from this situation so our economy can recover,” Mabuza said.
Responding to a question on how long should unemployed graduates who studied via government funded bursaries wait until they secure a job with the state, Mabuza said it was important that government first resolves issues around the public wage deal before considering absorbing new recruits within its ranks.
The government would also have to look at where there were service delivery shortages so people with the necessary skills can be employed in those areas, Mabuza added.
It was encouraging that some of the 600 000 people absorbed through government’s employment stimulus package had trained to be teachers, Mabuza said, adding that though they were not permanently employed they would gain the necessary experience, while others could eventually secure permanent employment.
Mabuza said it is important that government works with the private sector to ensure that young people are equipped with the skills required in the labour market.
The high level of unemployment is a serious concern for the government and President Cyril Ramaphosa is giving serious thought to which solutions can be implemented to address this, Mabuza said.
The deputy president said Covid-19 restrictions had led to the shutdown of some companies, “which is a requirement to save lives”, but it is important to strike a balance between saving lives and livelihoods.
The government will continue to implement its employment stimulus package and programmes such as the Expanded Public Works Programme as an effort to employ young people, Mabuza said.