By Staff Reporter

Cell C, along with other like-minded corporates, held an interesting and poignant roundtable discussion on the issue of youth unemployment with the topic “Tackling the issues of Youth unemployment and Unemployability”, hosted by CSR News.

Professor Steven Friedman from the University of Johannesburg started off the discussion with a pertinent question, “Why do youth still struggle to find employment when youth-targeted programs end”. He elaborated further stating that society as a whole and specifically youth programs are not meeting the exact needs of youth. He supported this statement by sharing an interesting concept he calls, “Insiders vs Outsiders” – a society divided by insiders and outsiders, where “outsiders” are not involved in decision-making policies when it comes to youth empowerment programs. In a country where outsiders hold the majority percentage in terms of population, the insiders (minority) are making decisions on theirbehalf – which is the biggest barrier when it comes to youth-targeted programs.

Lethiwe Hlatshwayo (Cell C, Executive Head of Corporate Affairs and Communications) contributed to the discussion by mentioning that youth programs need to look at youth holistically when designing programs. She elaborated on this stating that for youth to reach their full potential, programs need to look beyond career empowerment only, which is the driving force behind Cell C’s SEE YOUTH initiative.

Also raised was the reality that entrepreneurship is not recognized as a successful or realistic opportunity for our youth and the need to reframe the “Hustle economy” – Mr. Walter Bango (National Youth Development Agency) shared some insight on the narrative that informal self-employment is a stopgap towards better jobs.

Antonia Oakes (Old Mutual), further stated that youth find themselves being attracted to the “Glamourous Work Lifestyles” and while there is nothing wrong with youth aspiring towards this, as a society we need to invest time into profiling all kinds of work including Artisan work as a means of reducing unemployability by increasing self-employability.

All the delegates agreed that the narrative needs to change to normalize livelihoods and increase self-employability. The current construct will simply not create enough jobs to meet the supply.

Importantly that corporates have a role to play, most of whom have youth-targeted initiatives. Consideration to selflessly band together to collectively contribute towards solving the crisis of unemployment and pool together the varied skills/resources/capabilities to do so, without competing. Partnerships, co-operation, and collaboration on shared initiatives should be the goal, as a social compact, to create a movement of social change that puts the youth and country first.

Youth entrepreneurship is one of the focus areas in the Cell C SEEYOUTH development programme to contribute to the alleviation of the unemployment crisis. SEE YOUTH by Cell C is contributing to creating a world filled with opportunities, innovation, and most importantly, creating a platform for Youth to thrive. Visit  SEE YOUTH to learn more about how we are empowering youth in aspects of business, career, learning, and wellness, including mentorship.