Johannesburg - Ongoing job cuts will threaten the capacity of SA's matriculants to find work, Liza van Wyk, CEO of training organisations AstroTech and BizTech said on Monday.
Van Wyk added that a recent Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) economic survey showed that South Africa had the worst rate of unemployment among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 of all countries surveyed.
"Young people are becoming very demoralised at what they see is a growing lack of opportunity," she said.
Van Wyk's concerns were recently echoed by former labour minister Membathisi Mdladlana who described youth unemployment as "a ticking time bomb."
In a written reply to a parliamentary question, Mdladlana said the situation was so serious that unless swift action was taken, youth unemployment could become unsustainable, putting social cohesion at risk.
Van Wyk said a similar warning had been made by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which recently stated that employment growth globally would remain stagnant through 2010, and only return to pre-crisis levels in 2015, at the earliest.
The ILO cited cases of unrest related to the financial and economic crisis in at least 25 countries, out of 82 surveyed, in the form of anti-government protests, demonstrations against employers and violent clashes between the authorities and protesters.
Van Wyk said that last year South Africa shed more than a million jobs and so far this year, close to a quarter million additional workers had found themselves without employment.
"And politicians are warning that joblessness will lead to social unrest."
However, the government had a range of allowances and tax breaks for companies that conducted training programmes.
"They range from apprenticeship, learnership and internship allowances as a form of subsidies to learners while undergoing training."
The Training Layoff Scheme offered workers and employers an alternative to retrenchments and had so far assisted 6,083 workers.
Government had also provided R11bn in funds for the Department of Economic Development which had saved and created more than 20 000 jobs, "but it is a drop in the ocean in the face of millions without work," Van Wyk said.
She warned that companies were getting used to improving processes and cutting staff.
"What it means is that they will increasingly reject what they see as high wage demands and will continue to trim staff, train the best and make more money with fewer employees."
This called for "whole new ways" of thinking from employees and trade unions as well as training organisations.
"We are increasingly being pushed to provide high level theoretical material and ever-improving practical content so that staff are ever more productive," Van Wyk said.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Liza van Wyk, CEO AstroTech
011 582 3200 cell: 082 466 8975 or firstname.lastname@example.org www.astrotech.co.za
Issued by Charlene Smith Communications www.charlenesmith.net
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