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Geographic location also acts as a barrier to employment.
The uneven quality of South Africa’s public schooling system further entrenches inequality in finding employment.
Many of the poorer children at schools that are often under-resourced and ill-managed very quickly fall behind in their learning, later on drop out of school and then become part of the excluded groups.
Other barriers include limited social capital and limited access to information.
A recent national study of participants in a youth employability programme reported that the average transport and other work seeking costs for young people were around R560 per month.
We argue that focusing solely on the structural, long-term issues may prevent the country from considering important aspects that could be addressed more speedily, including local level barriers that constrain young people’s entry into the labour market.
Apart from the very high jobless rate, the other particularly disturbing trend is that more and more young people have given up looking for work.
In addition to this, the situation will contribute to a cycle of chronic unemployment and poverty: these young people are likely to become the parents of children who will then also grow up in a context of poverty.
Our paper provides an overview and assessment of the problem and discusses some of the structural features that drive youth unemployment in South Africa.
The evidence suggests that it’s a multifaceted issue.
The biggest factors are the evolving nature of the labour market and mismatches between the skills needed in the labour market and those provided through the educational system.