The Reason Behind Youth Unemployment Is … Mismatch?

“We have many jobs available … people need to know what it is that the market wants today,” said CEO of FP&M SETA during a youth day event.

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By Katleho Sathekge
Images by Katleho Sathekge

An award-winning chief executive officer, Dr Felleng Yende, told over 700 youths yesterday that one of the reasons for high levels of youth unemployment is lack of access to adequate research-based insights about critical skills.

Students enroll for courses with a low demand in the economy such as social sciences, she added when speaking at the ‘EmpowaYouth’ event commemorating the 1976 youth ambushed by the apartheid regime police in Soweto.

The gathering, hosted by the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority (FP&M SETA) at the New Hope International Ministries in Soweto, allowed for professionals to offer information on career guidance, access to the job market and entrepreneurial skills. 

“We have many jobs available … people need to know what it is that the market wants today. If you notice that there is a high demand for electrical engineers and you decide to study an electrical engineering course, there is a high chance that some companies will be interested as they need you,” she said.

“But if one decides to study for social sciences, where are they going to work?” asked Dr Yende. “It is not only about having a degree but is also about having something that will open doors to your future.” 

The Minister of Higher Education and Training established FP&M SETA on 1 April 2011 after the government took a decision to strengthen value-chain linkages between 13 related industries such as clothing, footwear, forestry, furniture, general goods, leather, packaging, print media, printing, publishing, pulp and paper, textiles and wood products. 

“Our focus is the youth between the age of 18- to 35-year-old,” said Dr Yende.

The commemoration this year occurs against the background of recorded high levels of unemployment, extreme poverty and social inequality. The youth unemployment for those between the ages 15-24 stands at 63.9% and for those aged 25-34 is at 42.1%, according to Statistics South Africa.

This is an abnormal situation in a country where the youth constitute the majority of the population.

The organisation’s Regional Manager, William Malema, said that the organisation is a bridge between companies and students. “The companies we attract are in demand for students. We provide nationally and internationally recognised qualifications for specific skills by training students, including youth in general,” he said.

A 24-year-old Tshepiso Makoni, co-founder of Emeka Studios, said he believes that young people need to have offices rather than events to pitch ideas and receive support..

“We, as the youth, need to come up with solutions instead of coming up with issues. We need initiatives like this one to be continuously hosted not just on Youth Day [… and] run by young people,” said Makoni, adding that the problem about the youth is their lack of engagement with various stakeholders.

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