Do South African youth want jobs?
HSRC Seminar series
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Date: 14 November 2019
Time: 12h30 – 14h00
Venues: Video conference in Pretoria, Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal Livestream by Vidyo
Presenter: Hannah Dawson, Society, Work, and Politics (SWOP) and Kristal Duncan, Youth Capital
Discussant: Dr Adam Cooper (ESD)
In South Africa the debate on youth and employment is usually framed in dramatic terms that highlight certain deficits, including the lack and mismatch of skills, a lack of educational achievement and a lack of economic growth. Silenced in the debate are reforming the structure of the South African economy where each sector continues to be dominated by a few large conglomerates, racialised spatial divisions and transport costs resulting from apartheid’s legacy. The practices and aspirations of young people themselves are most problematically absent from the debate. In this seminar the speakers highlight the perspectives of marginalised young people and the contexts in which their practices and aspirations play out.
Hannah Dawson is a postdoctoral fellow at the Society, Work, and Politics (SWOP) Institute at Wits University. She recently completed a doctorate in Anthropology from the University of Oxford, with a dissertation that offers an ethnographic account of young men’s everyday experiences of unemployment in a South African informal settlement. Her work challenges dominant understandings of unemployment defined by an absence – of income, something to do, or a place in society. Instead, she offers an account of unemployment as a productive experience filled with actions, choices and relationships. Her findings also challenge the assumption that unemployment is always the result of the unavailability jobs, showing instead that undesirable jobs are at times rejected in favour of alternative modes of socioeconomic life.
Kristal Duncan, Project Lead for the NPO Youth Capital will describe their research with 278 young South Africans and a proposed youth led network intervention designed to address the issue through 90 South African youth ambassadors, in three provinces. Youth Capital’s research highlights the need to change approaches to completing education, transitions between studies and the world of work and rethinking the kinds and location of available jobs. Their youth-led intervention aims to motivate young people to engage with these issues in their communities, equip youth to advocate for change and amplify young people’s efforts through the establishment of a network that builds connections nationally and engages with policy-makers.
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The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DST