The solution to SA’s youth unemployment crisis waits in plain sight, says Free Market Foundation
Johannesburg – StatsSA has announced that the official unemployment rate is now 32.6%. On the expanded definition, which includes those who have given up looking for work, the number is 43.2% (more than 11 million people). This includes 74% of the youth. According to the Free Market Foundation (FMF), the solution to the unemployment crisis is for government to make it easier for the jobless to find jobs in the private sector.
“With little economic growth – a result of government’s ideological and policy choices – the country’s young people have little chance of creating the life they desire,” opined FMF Deputy Director, Chris Hattingh. “Government should remove artificial barriers that prevent unemployed people from entering the jobs market, and that make it difficult for businesses to grow and employ more people.”
On Youth Day 2021, the FMF believes government must take decisive action to make the job market ore accessible to South Africans, particularly the youth who are expected to carry the economy into the future.
The FMF has historically proposed a Job Seekers Exemption Certificate (JSEC). FMF Director Eustace Davie explains, “All that is necessary is to exempt the unemployed from all, or the most onerous, provisions of South African labour law, and give them exemption certificates that allow them to enter into employment contracts with employers on any conditions they choose. Give the power to the jobless. Give them back their right to contract. Give them the freedom to make their own decisions about their own lives.”
Hattingh adds that small- and medium-sized businesses across the country should also be exempted from certain economic regulations to promote economic activity. “Onerous business legislation and excessive regulation discourages the growth of businesses and dissuades investors from devoting the capital necessary to South Africa for new factories and other forms of long-term investment. Without this organic business growth and the sinking-in of capital the best job summits and compacts from government will ultimately come to nought,” argues Hattingh.
Hattingh submits that the unemployment crisis must be seen within a broader context. “With an economy devastated by lockdown – and before 2020, steadily harmed by the wrong policies from government – only policies that unlock more economic activity will better serve the majority of South Africans. Pursuing old, statist policies is not the answer to the county’s economic crisis. This Youth Day, government must acknowledge its own mistakes, and undo them.”