Free State youth have made an urgent plea to government to scrap a three-year experience requirement on the job market entry level posts to afford fresh graduates a chance to employment.
They argued that the job-searching period for them becomes considerably longer than for experienced workers, which leads to gaps in employment history, loss of skills and productivity, and harms their future work prospects.
This emerged during the this year’s Youth Parliament attended by young people from five districts in the Free State held at the provincial legislature’s 4th Raadsaal chamber in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
Setjhaba Namane from Lejweleputswa district said young people often lack the experience needed to fill a job opening, which prevents them from getting employed.
“Fresh graduates lacking experience often find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle. We want to urge our government to change the system and (rather) place the experience requirement at the senior positions than at the entry level,” said Namane adding that Young people struggling to find permanent jobs are bound to accept temporary and intern positions.
“However, trainings and internships are not always considered by employers as “real” work experience and having them on your CV does not ease the process of finding work. Moreover, temporary jobs are less protected, often pay less, and do not offer job-related training and social benefits.
“As a result, unemployed young people are more prone to poverty risk, lower wages and worst career opportunities,” he said.
They also demanded that – in order to great jobs – active participation of young people in the country’s economy should be realised.
The youth parliament further discussed issues such as economic transformation, education and skills transfer, healthcare and combating substance abuse as well as nation building and social cohesion.
Shoai Tladi from the Fezile Dabi District said discipline in township schools is a worrying factor and that education should be more focussed on skills transfer.
“The challenge that we have in education is basically that the system creates people that are going to be job seekers, not job creators. In order to resolve that issue, it is better for education to introduce a skills programme, especially in high schools so that the learners who are not academically empowered may be able to create jobs for themselves, assisting to create jobs and may be able to exercise their skills to make a living for themselves.”
However, another member of youth parliament from Fezile Dabi district took a swipe at the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) for failure to empower young people.
He said lack of infrastructure and manpower are not to blame.
“The fact that NYDA only have one branch in the province and none in any rural areas and 12 staff does not mean they cannot be able to empower young people in the province. What matters is that they fail to use technology sufficiently at their disposal,” he said.
The youth is also concerned about substance abuse in the province, especially under-age drinking among children as young as 13-years old.
The learners proposed that the legal age for consuming alcohol be revised to 21, it’s currently 18.