Soaring unemployment plunges Mzansi youth into despair

By: Kelebogile Matlou

South Africa’s unemployment rate has risen from 32.7% in the fourth quarter of last year to 32.9% in the first quarter of 2023, according to Statistics South Africa. During the period from January to March, the number of unemployed individuals increased from 7.753 million in the final three months of 2022 to 7.933 million.

The escalating unemployment rate in South Africa is particularly impacting the country’s youth, severely limiting job prospects and intensifying competition for available positions. With fewer job opportunities available, young people often find themselves accepting low-paying or part-time roles, resulting in financial hardship.

Silence Sehlaha, a third-year student at Tshwane University of Technology, expressed the disheartening impact of the unemployment rate in South Africa, particularly for those with qualifications. Silence warns that if the problem persists, it will lead to increased levels of corruption, crime, and poverty.

Many unemployed young individuals experience frustration, discouragement, and demotivation as they continuously search for jobs, only to receive no response or face rejection after rejection. The lack of feedback can leave them feeling hopeless and exacerbate mental health issues such as anxiety and despair. Financial stress, feelings of failure, and a loss of independence can all result from unemployment.

Goitsiona Mofurutshi, a 27-year-old female with three qualifications, highlights her personal experience of unemployment. Despite having qualifications in matric, home-based skills, and computer skills, along with relevant experience, Goitsiona receives no responses or even interview opportunities when applying for jobs. She believes that the government is not providing equal job opportunities, often requiring extensive experience or limiting positions to specific provinces.

Unemployed youth often feel that they are not afforded equal opportunities due to their age, lack of experience, or other external factors. The absence of employment can have significant emotional and psychological effects on young individuals.

Surprise Busang, who has been searching for jobs for an extended period, expresses frustration with the high unemployment rate. She questions the government’s efforts to decrease unemployment, particularly highlighting the difficulties faced by those with matric qualifications and other certifications. Many job postings require matriculation and experience, creating challenges for individuals without these specific criteria.

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