LETTER | Burden faced by youth made even worse by Covid-19

Young South Africans are confronted with a slew of challenges including increased difficulty in finding jobs.
Young South Africans are confronted with a slew of challenges including increased difficulty in finding jobs.
Image: MICHAEL PINYANA

When June 16 was designated as Youth Day in 1994, it was intended to honour those who had suffered and died on that tragic day in 1976. The day was also set aside to honour those who continue to carry on their legacy of selflessness, determination and devotion, which are essential for any society or nation’s success and growth.

The year 2021 also marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of liberation struggle heroine and human rights campaigner, Charlotte Mannya Maxeke.

This year’s theme is “The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: Growing youth employment for an inclusive and transformed society”.

For the second consecutive year, the month is commemorated as the nation battles Covid-19. Young South Africans are confronted with a slew of challenges, including disruptions in the right to education, training and on-the-job learning; job and income losses owing to layoffs and reduced working hours; and increased difficulty finding jobs which pay a decent wage.

According to the 2020 fourth quarter Labour Force Survey, about 8.6m people aged 15 to 34 are not in education or employment.

Due to extensive school closures, young women are experiencing a rising double burden of managing both paid and unpaid care and domestic chores.

More than ever, investing in youth employment and digital skills development is critical to successfully respond to the extra challenges posed by Covid-19 and achieve a long-term inclusive and sustainable recovery.

Youth recovery funds, as well as stimulus packages and subsidies for youth are required with a preference for the informal sector. These solutions would go a long way in solving problems, especially for young women who remain vulnerable to abuse if they are not economically empowered.

— Dr Siyabulela C Fobosi, senior researcher Unesco Oliver Tambo Chair of Human Rights, University of Fort Hare


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