Opinionista Saziso Matiwane 6 June 2018

SA graduate unemployment on a precipice

The ever-rising number of unemployed and underemployed graduates is a ticking time bomb.

Many of our young graduates have long given up on any prospects of ever finding employment. Their qualifications are gathering dust. Many young people are discontent, hence many would argue that the resurgence of the more radical youth is birthed by the status quo and the slow pace with which government is moving in addressing pressing issues.

Regrettably, many of our people simply believe that the growth of our economy is the panacea to the unemployment crisis in South Africa.

This view could not be any further from the truth. The South African economy, for instance, experienced unprecedented levels of growth under the leadership of former president Thabo Mbeki, but that growth did not translate into job creation.

All it meant was that the captains of industry made more money for themselves.

The solution to the issue of unemployment requires a multifaceted approach which involves, among other things, the transformation of structural equalities that have relegated our people to the outskirts of the economy on the one end.

On the other end, a review of the education system is required in order to be responsive to the needs of our economy. In this context, I concur with the adherence of Pan Africanism when they say “our ideas should flow from the logic of understanding our own situation”.

This line of thinking should form the basis of our education system. An education system that is informed of our own reality as South Africa and which seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that beset our country. This education system would obviously remain alive to the impact of globalisation and the universality of information on the global stage, but it should be premised on the correct diagnosis of the South African and African reality.

This speaks to the need to create an education system that produces graduates that are inherently capable of solving the challenges of a developing country such as ours.

Furthermore, institutions of higher learning in our country should do away with qualifications that do not add value to the needs of the economy.

As things stand, every year young people are graduating without any prospects of ever finding jobs. These numbers are rising to the extent of creating social instabilities in our country.

Unfortunately, the liberal and right-wing organisations would have us believe that we require economic growth in order to create jobs.

In this context, it is liberal hypocrisy to suggest that the economy’s growth will on its own lead to a decrease in unemployment. The proponents of this view negate the fact that our economy is untransformed and therefore its growth pattern further exacerbates inequalities. They also ignore the disconnect that exists between the economy and the education system in our country.

What we need to appreciate as a country is the fact that no cosmetic change will have a meaningful impact on the conditions and lived experience of black people.

All these important debates, ranging from the expropriation of land without compensation to radical economic transformation in general and the decolonisation of education, are not mutual exclusive. They should be addressed with the necessary vigour if we are to change the lives of young people in our country.

Our government must shape up or ship out, because time is not on their side. DM

Saziso Matiwane is a former SRC President at CPUT and chairperson of Ikamva Investment group. He hold an Honours Degree in Public Administration and a B-Tech degree in Internal Auditing as well as a certificate in Management Development. He currently works as a Compliance Auditor.

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