Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Reducing Youth Unemployment beyond the Youth Wage Subsidy: A Study of Simtech Apprentices

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Reducing Youth Unemployment beyond the Youth Wage Subsidy: A Study of Simtech Apprentices

Article excerpt

Introduction

At present, South Africa faces the twin challenges of rising youth unemployment rates and worsening scarce skills required to drive economic growth. Youth unemployment currently sits at 70% (StatsSA, 2014). This situation is likened to a 'ticking time bomb' (Burnett, 2014).

There is no quick fix for the current high youth unemployment levels (Yu, 2013). In this context, the Employment Incentive Bill was introduced on 01 January 2014 and is better known as the Youth Wage Subsidy. The objective of this legislation was to encourage the employment of young people with limited work experience, by using tax incentives (Rankin & Roberts, 2011).

South Africa currently has 30 000 fewer artisans than it requires based on vacancies (Akoojee, 2013). There is thus a major focus on artisan training schools and apprenticeships in the workplace to produce more artisans for the economy (Simkins, Rule & Bernstein, 2007). The effectiveness of such workplace apprenticeships is an important lever to increase qualified artisan output.

The youth unemployment problem becomes even more dire when looking at artisan trades. Current artisan apprenticeship programmes were not having the desired effect in reducing youth unemployment while producing scarce skills for the economy (Oseifuah, 2010). A lot more needed to be done to improve the output of such apprenticeship programmes (Smith, Jennings & Solanki, 2005).

This study sought to solve the problem of what critical success factors ensure that apprenticeship programmes yield the desired output of qualified artisans who are permanently employed and contributing to South Africa's economy (Witte, Rothmann & Jackson, 2012).

Research objectives

The research objectives of the study are to:

* investigate whether the internship or workplace environment of Simtech's young artisanal apprentices significantly impacted their attainment of permanent employment after the apprenticeship period

* identify whether the work ethic of Simtech's young artisanal apprentices significantly impacted their attainment of permanent employment after the apprenticeship period

* determine whether the employability skills of Simtech's young artisanal apprentices significantly impacted their attainment of permanent employment after the apprenticeship period.

Literature review

Youth unemployment

Youth unemployment has been one of the most concerning trends in the global labour market (Ogbuanya, 2015). It was particularly prevalent in developing economies like South Africa (Mlatsheni & Rospabé, 2002). High youth unemployment rates contributed to a number of socio-political problems in countries, such as high crime rates, high poverty levels and radical political upheavals - as in the Arab Spring uprisings that swept through north Africa and most notably Egypt a few years ago (Akoojee & Gonon, 2013). South Africa was starting to experience similar rhetoric with the emergence of the Economic Freedom Fighters political party that has sought to obtain economic freedom for its predominantly young support base (Burnett, 2014).

Developed countries such as Germany and Japan have not been immune to youth unemployment and skills shortages (Akoojee & Gonon, 2013). Declining population rates coupled with a disinterest by their young people in blue-collar artisanal trades has resulted in a 'lost generation' of artisans emerging in these countries (Wildschut, Meyer & Akoojee, 2015). This has meant that these countries needed to import such scarce skills into their economies, and this has driven a global scarcity of artisans (Horwitz, 2013).

Role of the apprenticeship system in South Africa

The apprenticeship system in South Africa had a turbulent past. During apartheid, it was used as a job reservation gatekeeper to prevent black people from accessing these trades (Smith et al. …

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