/ 18 September 2008

Report: Youth job-creation programmes are failing

Job-creation programmes aimed at the youth in South Africa’s three largest metropolitan areas are not working, according to a report released by the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) on Thursday.

”We should never deny the importance of even short-term interventions in individual lives,” said CDE executive director Ann Bernstein. ”But subsidised, artificially created jobs are neither a realistic nor a sustainable way to tackle South Africa’s enormous youth unemployment challenge.”

The CDE found that although well intentioned, the small-scale and fragmented nature of public and private initiatives by the government and business make them unlikely to have a significant effect on youth unemployment figures.

The CDE looked at unemployment interventions for the youth in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

Statistics from 2005 found that 65%, or 2,6-million, of four million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 who were available for jobs were unemployed.

The CDE study said the interventions assessed often spend a lot of money on creating very few jobs and that they need to be independently evaluated.

”CDE’s report recommends that all job-creation initiatives be audited, not only in terms of financial management but also in terms of cost-effectiveness.”

However, Bernstein said the root causes of unemployment need to be tackled if the problem is ever to be solved. Laws, regulations, procedures and attitudes hampering the job-creation potential of the economy need to be reconsidered.

Options such as creating enterprise zones in poorer parts of the country and massive incentives to the private sector to become more involved in training also should be considered.

Job-creation efforts should focus on metros because most young South Africans move to the city to find jobs, she said.

The research shows that youth unemployment in South Africa is extensive, dangerously entrenched and among the highest in the world.

”This reality carries with it the threats to social stability — including high levels of crime — associated with endemic unemployment,” said Bernstein. — Sapa