South Africa has a serious unemployment problem, particularly among young people. A worrying side-effect is chronic unemployment: those who have never worked at all, or who have not worked for so long that getting a job is much harder. Several initiatives have been introduced to combat unemployment – most recently, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Youth Employment Service (YES). But can they Work?
Youth unemployment is one thing. But some battle to find secure employment for so long that they leave the youth category, still looking.
Noludwe Mabele achieved a certificate in secretariat studies in 2001, but has yet to secure a job in her field.
“You find that even if you’ve done your degree, if you haven’t worked according to your career, the companies don’t want to hire you,” says Mabele, 36, who is still searching for a job as a secretary. 1
Mabele exemplifies how an unforgiving job market can bring a young person’s career aspirations to a halt. Without a job after training, the time she spent searching for secretarial work not only stalled her career momentum – it forced her to backtrack.
“It’s been a long time. Now, if a company calls me, says, ‘Noludwe, come and help us,’ it’s going to be difficult. For instance, I’m trained in switchboard [operating] and speed typing. But now I don’t have the speed I had in school. I’m getting worried”
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