The unemployment rate is defined as the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force, in South Africa it currently stands at about 23,9% a daunting number indeed. Some would take it as far as to say we are in a crisis that threatens to destabilise society as a whole.
I somewhat believe this, I have seen friends who are terrified to lose their jobs or even look for something better in fear that they will destabilise their economic security, and possibly join the unemployed numbers.
Kids who have just finished Matric or Varsity and do not have jobs use social networks such as Twitter to keep each other entertained throughout the day, using tags like #TeamUnemployed. It is a sad reality for millions of people in the country.
However I do wonder if our country’s problem really is unemployment or more an issue of a lack of employable people.
Employability according to Wikipedia refers to a person’s ability for gaining and maintaining employment. For individuals it depends on the knowledge, skills and abilities possessed, the way they present those assets to employers and the context within which they seek work. As such employability is affected by both supply side and demand side factors which are often outside of an individual’s control.
To my understanding this essentially means that the person looking for a job would need to have the aptitude to be able to sell their experience and skills to a potential employer and meet the said employers needs right?
But how does one with a Matric pass rate of 30% do this? How does someone with the literacy level of a Grade 7 student manage to even identify their skills in the first place??
My argument is that perhaps the problem is not so much that there are no jobs out there for people, but more that the people are simply not skilled in being able to sell themselves to employers in an effective way that would have them bag that particular job.
How can this be fixed though? This is where I feel a problem presents itself because in a country as diverse as South Africa a one size fits all approach will not suffice. But the obvious solutions include improving education, self-esteem and self-worth in individuals and helping them from a young age identify their talents. This goes a long way in helping filter someone into a job or career that fits with them and therefore makes it easier for them to sell their skills.
The solution I believe lies with all of us who have been priviledged enough to enter the workforce and understand what is required to be a successful employee, entreprenuer and one day hopefully employer