The unemployment rate in South Africa is at crisis level and it should be declared a state of emergency, writes Ronald Bownes.
The government is not going to be able to create enough jobs through large-scale infrastructure projects, let alone lasting jobs. Nor is the business profit model geared towards solving the problem.
South Africa's business model puts a greater emphasis on maximising profit for shareholders than developing human capital, resulting in less job creation. In addition to this, the education system is churning out a poor quality of student because the focus is on memory, not on creativity, innovation and critical thinking, which makes students less marketable to the business world, placing an additional training cost on the economic sector.
We need to shift our perception of unemployment and the solutions thereto. We are not going to solve the issue by creating jobs. Rather, we need to focus on creating work opportunities for the unemployed in part-time, casual and project work to absorb dormant labour. Along with this, we have to shift our consciousness from a job-seeking society to one in which people see themselves as independent contractors and work for a number of projects and organisations at the same time.
Across the world, the traditional idea of a job is dissipating fast. Economies can no longer guarantee secure, contractual jobs with benefits. If we get people working, they will start spending more in their communities and the process of supply and demand will promote economic growth. Getting people to work gives people exposure to new skills, the opportunity to improve their CVs and, most importantly, a sense of purpose. Studies across the globe stress the importance of a sense of purpose as it satisfies other fundamental components of the human psyche, such as a sense of worth, dignity and pride. Purposeful individuals translate into healthier families and communities.
DreamWorker is tackling this problem head on. It is a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping the unemployed in the lower economic sector of society find work. Since its inception in a single office, DreamWorker has engaged and registered more than 7 000 unemployed and continues to engage an additional 2 000 a year. A total of 300 000 days of work have been recorded, translating into wages of more than R40-million. DreamWorker has also created its own work-creation programme called Link of Love. A day of work can be sponsored for R100, allowing an unemployed person to work in their community. This programme is not only geared towards creating work, it also uplifts communities. – Ronald Bownes, director of DreamWorker ()