Here's why SA's unemployed Gen Z is your problem

According to StatsSA, 74.7% of South Africa's youth (18 - 24) are unemployed. That is just staggering.

TL;DR

If this unemployment problem isn't resolved very quickly, you are going to be taxed to death literally. No retirement for you, and probably you're going to die of violent crime.

 

If for some reason you prefer rocks to clouds and you've been living under one for a while - here's some breaking news, Gen Z unemployment is sitting at 74.7%. That's right. 74.7%. If you do keep up with the news, you probably saw this somewhere and either you went into a tiny meltdown that was quickly forgotten when the light turned green or you just shrugged it off without even thinking about it. I mean, you are of course either employed or you're running a fairly successful startup. So why is it your problem?

 

Allow me to introduce a tiny country where the device you're reading this off comes from. It's called China. And not too far away from it is Japan, a country where your device was probably designed if you're on desktop. These countries share a somewhat similar story, rise up very quickly through insane industrialisation, everyone has a job and a decent wage - and a good education. When these things happen people spend more, take on more credit and economies grow. I know it doesn't yet sound familiar, but it will in a second. What also happens is that people start having fewer children and that is a problem. The country's population starts to age, people retire with basically no one to replace them, in some cases it's foreign nationals - but neither China nor Japan are part of any of your friends' long term migration plans, now are they? This results in a top-heavy age pyramid. More older people with fewer young people to pay the taxes that are supposed to take care of them, meaning they have to work longer into their old age, contribute less tax and a little thing called death happens which is what lead to Japan's stagnation (also loneliness, because death, because fewer people, because no foreigners, because aunty asks too many questions on her first date). "But James, China... oh yeah, you're right. That One Child Policy really f'ed them over. Never mind".

 

Now to bring it home. Instead of having an age crisis, we're having a youth unemployment crisis. I don't know which I prefer, but at the end of the day they both lead to what is essentially the same endpoint. But there is one huge difference, while China and Japan's youth just disappeared ours is still around. We just don't know what to do with them, in fact, no one wants to have to deal with them. This leaves them in a very dangerous position where they can be exploited by criminal organisations. And exploited they're being! On two fronts, they're being used to commit violent crimes - you know like hijackings, break-ins and robberies. CIT heists? Mostly younger millennials doing those. And if things keep going the way they are your "skrr-skrr, yo lil wayne, nigga yeah" cousin will be going "skrr-skrr, nigga handover that Polo" to you in a few short years. The biggest concern, however is not the potential rise of violent crimes, it's the tax issue.

 

Criminal organisations aren't exactly famous for paying their fair share of taxes. This leads to you and I, the employed millennials who are already being taxed to hell and back having to cover their medical bills. That's right, when the criminals get hurt, it'll be our tax Rand that pays for their pain killers and rehabilitation, as well as the tasteless hospital food. Remember the whole NHI bill?It won't be the mafioso who pay for that, it'll be us. And there is already a huge crisis that we have to deal with ourselves, saving. We're not really good at that. With the economy being where it is, we're also not being encouraged to do too much of it either. And then there's the brain-drain that's happening. The affluent are leaving the country at a high rate.

 

To get a better idea of what I'm talking about, imagine Japan with all its elderly, peaceful retirees. Beautiful, right? Now sprinkle in some unoccuppied youth who are being sold the idea that a gangster lifestyle is the best thing ever by both local and international musicians and basically all entertainment.

 

If the Gen Z unemployment crisis is not fixed very soon, it won't be the other that suffers, it'll be us. You and I. The ones with somewhat secure jobs and a decent lifestyle.

 

This is part one of a two part article thing. In the next one, I'll be covering potential solutions and financial insentives to implement them.


James Baloyi

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