Youth Month: Young people at risk of never working their entire lives

Please find attached soundbite in English from Luyolo Mphithi, DA Federal Youth Leader.

This week, South Africa marks the beginning of Youth Month. This year, under the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Youth would like to acknowledge and thank the young men and women who have fought on the frontlines of South Africa’s Covid-19 efforts every day.

Whether they are health professionals, security officials or other critical essential services, the DA Youth commend them for their sacrifices and service to the country.

As we commemorate the beginning of Youth Month, we have to remember the millions of South Africans who have suffered immensely due to the continued Covid-19 economic lockdown.

Job losses and the restriction on movement, coupled with the unfolding humanitarian crisis, have been a particular test for the millions of South African young people who do not know the dignity of having a job.

South Africa’s official unemployment rate currently stands at 29.1%, however, recent projections predict that this number could rise to a staggering 50% as a consequence of the pandemic.

Over 50% of young people cannot currently find jobs and this number is unfortunately expected to rise.

This is not the South Africa the youth of 1976 so bravely fought for.

South Africa’s youth is facing the most volatile economic and political period in our democratic dispensation. Young people between the ages of 16 and 35 are at risk of either never working their entire lives or, if they are working, they run the risk of working their whole lives without any possibility of improving their socio-economic status.

This Youth Month, the DA Youth calls on all role-players to engage in a national discourse which highlights the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown regulations as yet another barrier to the youth’s economic inclusion. Particularly in light of national government’s failure to adequately create safety nets focused at young entrepreneurs who are critical to growing the job market.

To address the scourge of joblessness among our young people, the DA Youth today launches its national campaign #TheYouthHustleContinues which will sound the call to President Cyril Ramaphosa to act in creating an economic environment for job creation.

The DA Youth will in the coming days: 

  • Petition the President to ensure #Data4ALL 
  • Stimulate demand for youth labour through the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI)

The ETI is a direct intervention in the labour market aimed at stimulating demand for youth labour. The policy gives firms a tax credit for hiring individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 years. One of the imperfections in the South African labour market is the effect of collective bargaining or negotiated union wages on wages for both union and non-union workers, which results in wages that are too high to clear the market. The higher wages allow firms to choose more experienced workers from the surplus of willing workers, creating a bias against younger, less experienced workers. The wage subsidy implicit in the ETI lowers the cost of the young, inexperienced worker to employers without lowering the wages of the workers themselves. This mechanism reduces the risk to firms when hiring.

  • Provide targeted support for micro-entrepreneurs in the informal economy

South Africa has a significant informal economy. The DA’s approach is to recognise that it is happening organically in a country where economic activity is relatively scarce. As such, we must ensure that we foster this sector and support the job creation potential that it offers.

  • Focus on instilling an entrepreneurial mindset and expanding support and incentives for youth-owned businesses and co-operatives

South Africans should be encouraged and incentivised to start new businesses. It is a practical expression of an individual’s ambition to convert their talents into an income-producing activity and should be encouraged and supported with mentorship and access to resources

The country needs a plan to rescue our economy and create jobs.

The DA Youth call upon the youth across South Africa to join us in standing up against unemployment and demand a better today and tomorrow.

The youth deserve better, they deserve jobs. If we do not break this cycle of joblessness, we would have failed the brave ’76 Generation who fought gallantly for freedom, democracy and opportunity.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court