Cape Town - Economists, opposition parties and education experts have warned that thousands of matriculants will swell the ranks of the unemployed as the economy struggles to create jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
GOOD Party secretary-general Brett Herron, said: “While we celebrate improving educational outcomes we must fix our country’s high unemployment problem – especially youth unemployment – since it is unacceptable and heartbreaking that so many who achieve their matric spend their young adult lives unemployed.”
Herron said that they could not relegate an entire generation, who diligently completed basic education, to a future of joblessness.
“We must create more real jobs, not just temporary EPWP jobs, more free community-based skills training and easier access to further and higher education,” he said.
Economist, and senior analyst at the Centre for Risk Analysis, Bheki Mahlobo, said that unfortunately the country's educational system did not properly equip many young South Africans with the skills needed to be absorbed in the labour market.
Mahlobo said that was largely due to the poor education standards, lack of accountability and massive drop-out levels in many public schools in the country.
He said a number to be looked at was the number of matriculants who had passed maths with a pass mark of 50% and above which was significantly lower than the published 2021 matric pass of 76.4%.
“A maths pass mark of 50% allows students to go to university. Seventy percent of pupils that have university qualifications are employed compared to 41.2% that have completed high school but not university and only 28.2% of pupils that have dropped out of high school before they have even reached university are employed,” Mahlobo said.
Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said the rate of unemployment in the country had reached alarming proportions.
He said it should be clear that the matric class of 2021 would not be spared from that undesirable state of affairs, particularly those who had no plans to proceed into the post school education sector.
“This means that parents should try by all means possible to support their children by insisting they enter the post school education sector where they can acquire skills that are necessary to participate in the mainstream economy,” Makaneta said.
Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said their vision was to provide quality education for every child.
She said they were aware of the challenges experienced by the youth to gain access into further studies or job opportunities.
SA Institute of Race Relations chief executive John Endries said the matric class of 2021 had already invested 12 years of their lives acquiring skills to enter the job market.
“But many will have made the investment in vain, as they are entering a stagnant economy strangled by hostile policies, rank incompetence and pervasive corruption,” Endries said.
He said the economy did not have the capacity to create jobs for the millions of unemployed already out there looking for work, and it would not have the capacity to create jobs for the many young school leavers now.
“It means even more people will be unemployed in South Africa,” Endries said.
He said that was an abominable dereliction of duty on the part of the government, which has failed to create the right conditions for private investment by providing competent governance and a business-friendly policy environment.
United Association of SA spokesperson Abigail Moyo, said: “Remember that employers are looking for skilled people, and a straight matric qualification provides school leavers with limited skills, if any.”
Moyo said matric was simply not enough to qualify young people for the labour market, employers view them as unskilled.