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The Future Of Employment

At this very moment, the class of 2021 are preparing to enter the world of work (joining LinkedIn, sending out CVs, scanning job posting sites every two minutes for new vacancies), or they’re on the cusp of pursuing university degrees.

It’s been an unprecedented time. And while some of these learners may have grown in confidence from adapting to a hybrid learning approach, others may have become discouraged. We simply can’t ignore the fact that as many students take steps closer to achieving their career aspirations, struggling to find employment is a stark reality that awaits many of them.

READ MORE: These 20 Job Titles Will Be In High Demand In The Near Future

We’ll cut to the chase: youth unemployment rates are sky-rocketing

Unemployment is not new. High levels of youth unemployment has been a stumbling block for the classes of previous years. In fact, a Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE) study conducted in 2000 revealed that unemployment was the single biggest challenge facing young South Africans.

Today, more youth are unemployed compared to two decades ago, as the unemployment rate of job-seekers between 15 and 24 years old hit a new record high of 64.4% in the first quarter of 2021. Whoa.

It goes without saying that the youth were most affected by job losses between October 2020 and January 2021 – the height of the pandemic’s third wave in SA. According to data from the National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM), job loss for the youth was more than double (-31%) the job losses for middle-aged adults (-13%), and considerably higher than for prime-age adults (-19%).

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Retrenchment and redundancy in the workplace

Many young people who are fortunate to still be employed face mounting threats of retrenchment and redundancy from automation. Over and above the current disruption from lockdown restrictions and subsequent economic shrinkage, technological adoption by business is set to transform tasks, jobs and skills by 2025. So, what exactly is South Africa’s youth to do?

Well… education is a powerful tool

Being educated is a powerful tool for upliftment and change, not to mention a huge privilege and accomplishment. (At the same time, it shouldn’t be viewed as a rite of passage where one is entitled to a job.) As new roles begin to emerge, lifelong learning – specifically pursuing postgraduate studies – could hold the key for young people to be relevant in an ever-changing working world.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

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