Entrepreneurship Is Key to Curbing Youth Unemployment

Cape Times (South Africa), June 23, 2015 | Go to article overview

Entrepreneurship Is Key to Curbing Youth Unemployment


AS we commemorate Youth Month, spare a thought for the millions of young people among us who are unemployed and many others destined to join their ranks. Youth Month, which is meant to celebrate the historic role that young people played in the fight for democracy in South Africa, comes at a time when millions of our youth remain in the majority of the economically excluded population.

Over the last few years, we have seen the national unemployment figures continue to soar with little signs of abating. This is despite significant efforts from the government, private sector, NGOs (non-government organisations) and other stakeholders to curb this trend.

Recent Statistics SA figures have put South Africa's unemployment at 26.4 percent, with about half of that number consisting of people under the age of 35. These sobering figures provide fertile ground for social unrest. A multi-pronged approach is required to increase the levels of employment and support inclusion and social cohesion. A part of this approach lies in fully exploring entrepreneurship as a possible solution. It is an alternative to formal employment that still needs to be adequately exploited to grow the economy and get more young people into jobs, especially given the slow job expansion in both the private and public sectors.

For this to happen, it is important for young people to first understand that, just as their previous counterparts were able to play a significant role in the fight against apartheid, current generations can also play an equally important part in tackling the challenge of unemployment. One way of doing this is for the youth to start considering entrepreneurship as a career choice, instead of looking to be absorbed into the already constricted job market.

Creativity

By choosing to be entrepreneurs they would be able to create wealth and in turn employment. This way, young people can contribute to effectively curbing the rising levels of unemployment. Given the number of people who, out of necessity, have established small enterprises, there is little doubt that the drive, energy and creativity among our youth are all there. All that needs to be done is to harness them.

Of course, this is not to suggest that entrepreneurship is the "silver bullet" to solve the country's unemployment crisis. It is one solution that will require massive support from a variety of stakeholders as well as a commitment to change in public perceptions, attitudes and culture. For its part, the government needs to create an enabling environment for young entrepreneurs. This includes ensuring that our education system is good and does not only prepare the youth to be job seekers but that it also promotes entrepreneurship early on. …

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