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Service - Leadership in Government - Issue 77

  • Text
  • Service delivery
  • South africa
  • Service
  • Employment
  • Youth
  • Unemployment
  • Leadership
  • Government
  • Wwwglobalafricanetworkcom
  • Transition
  • Solar
  • Assessment
  • Programmes
  • Csir
  • Salga
  • Challenges
  • Digital
  • Environmental
  • African
September is a time of renewal. In this edition of Service, we look at what is about to be renewed, in the process of being renewed, and in need of renewal in South Africa.

S youth South Africa’s

S youth South Africa’s efforts to tackle joblessness can be more effective: here’s how Youth unemployment is one of South Africa’s most intractable challenges, made worse by Covid-19. Prior to the pandemic, the unemployment rate (including people who had given up looking for work) was just under 70% for people aged 15 to 24. By Lauren Graham, Ariane De Lannot and Leila Patel A year later the rate had increased to 74% – despite government investments. It is crucial to understand what interventions are working. But how do we evaluate whether youth employment programmes are successful, particularly when unemployment is caused by the structure of the economy? The obvious answer is whether a programme results in a young person getting employed. This is logical and easy to measure. It can easily be linked to the release of funding to programmes. And it allows for programmes to be compared. This was done in a systematic review of 113 programmes internationally. However, as we have explored in several recent studies, there are many drawbacks to relying solely on job placement as an indicator of successful intervention. Doing so misses out on outcomes that are equally important, or more so, amid high structural unemployment. These lessons are particularly important in economies that have been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, where youth employment recovery will take time. Inadequate measure of success We make this argument based on a number of studies. The first looked at long-term employment outcomes of 1 892 youth between 18 and 25 who participated in youth employability programmes over the period 2017-2018. These are programmes run by NGOs, business and the state. They typically include technical and soft skills training. The proportion of participants who found jobs and stayed in them over time was just 28% – somewhat better than a matched sample from the quarterly labour force survey data, but still low. But we also found evidence that programmes had other important outcomes. These included a continued positive orientation to the labour market, as well as improved self-esteem and self-efficacy – important attributes for managing the protracted transition to work in a low-growth economy. The second involved analysis of the quarterly labour force survey and general household survey data to understand the nature of young people not in employment or in education and training. It found that while many such youth have never worked, a significant portion find themselves in and out of work without making much longer-term progress. No matter how well a programme trains and supports a young person, if there are limited jobs, young people are unlikely to be employed. The third study draws together several qualitative studies conducted in the past 10 years. It shows that young people are frustrated by the constant cycle of finding and taking up training and employment opportunities, without making progress towards a longer-term career. Together, these studies show that job placement alone is an insufficient goal and measure of the success of youth employability programmes. Four reasons for this argument emerge from these studies. First, job placement says more about demand than supply. A young person’s ability to find a job does not depend only on their skills but also on whether the labour market is creating sufficient demand for employees. No matter how well a programme trains and supports a young person, if there are limited jobs, young people are unlikely to be employed. Second, if a programme is getting young people into jobs even though job numbers are not growing – as in South Africa – these placements may be ___ __ There are several drawbacks to relying solely on job placement as an indicator of successful intervention. 24 | Service magazine

“W e call on society to play your part in availing opportunities for our youth, to ensure an inclusive and transformed society. We cannot ignore our youth dividend if we are to see our society progress. Therefore, all of us must play our part in creating an inclusive society, which allows engagements, improves the mental health of youth and persons with disabilities, and increases access to economic opportunities for the youth. “Government recognises the power and ability of the youth. We therefore continue to invest in youth development programmes through agencies such as the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) to bring positive changes to the lives of the young people of our country. The NYDA recognises challenges faced by the youth better and recognises the potential that the young people possess. It is for this reason that the agency continues to implement programmes that bring change to the lives of our youth. “Furthermore, the Presidency, working with the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, continues to work across government and private and social partners to coordinate and drive an integrated plan to create two-million youth LABOUR MARKET RATES BY AGE GROUP Q1:2021 new jobs for young people during the next decade, over and Youth aged 15-24 years (63.3%) and 25-34 years above average job growth. Young people hold the key Youth to aged 15-24 years (63.3%) and (41.3%) 25-34 years recorded the highest unemployment rates transforming our economy, boosting growth and fostering (41.3%) recorded the social cohesion, creativity, and innovation. highest unemployment “We want to rates encourage young people to seek entrepreneurial “The Presidential Youth Employment Intervention is government’s plan to address this challenge. It is designed to effectively transition young people into the labour and skills opportunities. We believe that with the available opportunities, young people can become job creators and not only become job-seekers.” market, aiming to significantly reduce the high rate of youth – Youth Month keynote address by Minister unemployment. It is our aim to transform society and build a country filled with opportunities for the youth. Nkoana-Mashabane in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, 1 June 2021 35-44 yrs 27% 15-24 yrs 25-34 yrs 35-44 yrs 45-54 yrs 55-64 yrs 45-54 yrs 20% 55-64 yrs 13.10% 25-34 yrs 41.3% 15-24 yrs 63.3% S Source: StatsSA at the expense of other work seekers. Individual programmes can get people into jobs while the overall youth unemployment rate stays stagnant or rises. In the context of a rapidly contracting economy in the Covid-19 era, this is a particularly important argument against job placement as the only measure of a programme’s success. Third, using this single indicator takes attention away from longer-term pathways towards sustainable livelihoods. Many jobs in South Africa, especially at entry level, are insecure, part-time or casual. There is a risk of disregarding whether a job is decent and has prospects for learning and career development. Young people typically do not stay in jobs. This is either because the job is not a good fit or is for a short term only. Other barriers, such as transport costs, also account for why they are unable to stay in jobs. Qualitative and quantitative evidence shows that young people find jobs that are typically short-lived, before having to look again for their next placement. Policymakers should consider whether these short-term experiences add up to something longer term – or there is a risk of perpetuating the cycle of underemployment. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, evaluating programmes on the basis of job placement alone underestimates the multidimensionality of poverty. Evidence repeatedly shows how many barriers and challenges young people face as they leave the education system and begin to find their way towards a job, and perhaps even a career. These barriers are not only related to the labour market or education system. They also include issues such as food insecurity, income poverty and care responsibilities, among others. Each of these limits the ability of young people to look for work. These interrelated challenges influence young people’s ability to take up training or job opportunities. Taken together, these challenges require far more intensive support than simply training and placing a young person in a job. Service magazine | 25

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