YOUTH MONTH CELEBRATIONS

The month of June marks Youth month which serves as a commemoration of the collective action taken by young South Africans to incite change. On 16 June 1976, black school children took to the streets of Soweto and other parts of the country to participate in peaceful protests against the use of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction. As we reflect on the 46th anniversary of the uprisings, and the significant contributions of young people to the liberation of our country, we consider this year’s Youth Day theme: “Promoting sustainable livelihoods and resilience of young people for a better tomorrow” There is a continued focus on youth empowerment and developing initiatives that will support young people.

South African youth continue to face the brunt of the unemployment crisis with an unemployment rate higher than the national average. According to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA, 2022), South Africa has over 10 million people aged between 15-24, and of these, only 2,5 million are active in the labour force. Unemployment among youth continues to be a burden, irrespective of educational background and according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the first quarter of 2022, the unemployment rate as 63,9% for those aged 15-24 and 42,1% for those aged 25-34 years, while the current official national rate stands at 34,5% (Stats SA). Factors influencing unemployment are varied and the root causes are often debated, and according to the Department of Government Communication and Information System, some suggestions that have been brought forward include:

As the Informal Economy Development Forum (IEDF), we are committed to ensuring equal opportunity for all, and to develop initiatives that are aimed at creating sustainable jobs and empowering the youth. In meeting these objectives, the IEDF partnered with the South African Youth Council (SAYC) and Cell C to host a Young Entrepreneurial Round-Table Event to commemorate Youth Day and reflect on the significance of the historic event that changed the political landscape of this country and showed the power that young people have as a collective. Furthermore, it was also an opportunity to address prevalent issues among the youth. The event was held at the Observatory Community Hall, Cape Town and was attended by representatives from IEDF, the South African Youth Council (SAYC) and Cell C.

Vuyokazi Malafu, National Manager of Informal Economy Support remarks: “We would like to join the country in celebrating the work done in advancing equal rights for young people thus far. Over the years, we have seen government and civil society work tirelessly at ensuring political, social and economic freedom for young people. As we celebrate some achievements in this regard, we remain vigilant and tenacious in ensuring that we support the informal economy, particularly young business owners by connecting them to skills development opportunities and entities that will enable their businesses to flourish.”

Benjamin Zantsi, Provincial Chairperson of the South African Youth Council (SAYC), an umbrella body of youth formations in the country, remarked: On Youth Day, we might reflect on the problems we are currently facing as young people in the country such as youth unemployment, gender-based violence and the issue of drugs and poverty. However, we need to focus on coming together as young people to find practical solutions to these problems. When we think of the youth of 1976, we think of young people who did not wait on government to provide solutions. Youth Day is a day that inspires active citizenship where we as the youth want to be part of the solutions. SMMEs can be the vehicle to address youth unemployment and some of the social ills affecting our communities – and that speaks to our relationship/partnership with the IEDF where our common goal is to provide opportunities to help develop young people in the informal space as the informal economy is the future of this country.”

Theo Frantz, Area Manager of Cell C stated: Cell C believes in the empowerment of young people, and we want to make an impact wherever we can by making opportunities available for young people to develop their businesses and improve their lives.”

The IEDF hopes that at the end of this event all the youth would have been convinced beyond doubt that the future is in their hands and that they have the capacity to contribute significantly to the largest sector in the economy.

References:

Statistics South Africa, 2022. South Africa’s youth continues to bear the burden of unemployment. | Statistics South Africa. [online] Statssa.gov.za. Available at: <https://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=15407> [Accessed 13 June 2022].

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