Youth Day offers no joy for job seekers

Thulani Mekana, 32, and other job seekers gather in Shelley Street, Windsor Park, hoping someone will offer them work.

Youth Day was just another day of desperate job hunting for scores of people who braved the cold in Kraaifontein on Wednesday June 16.

They started making an appearance from 6am. There were about 20 outside Brackenfell train station; 40 spread across Shelley Street, Darwin Road and Edwin Road in Windsor Park; and 10 near the Shoprite Centre in Kraaifontein.

Many were in their early 30s, representing a portion of the 46.3% of unemployed youth identified by Statistics SA in the first quarter.

By 9am, only a few had been selected for odd jobs. Those left behind returned despondently to their homes.

“We have no time to mark Youth Day. Instead we have to look for jobs,” said Samson Chauke, 26.

There were fewer than usual people seeking jobs on the roads because of the public holiday, he said.

Thulani Mekana, 32, has gone regularly to Darwin Road and Shelley Street to look for work ever since he and 70 others were retrenched by a construction company in Blackheath last year.

“It’s always full of people who are looking for jobs. Most of the times you go weeks without a job and that’s almost like a standard for everyone,” he said.

CK Moya, 33, agrees. He said: “I get paid between R200 and R250 for a day’s work. R200 is better than just being at home, but coming here every day and not getting a job can crush your spirit sometimes. Sometimes you get a job, at times you don’t. I would say per month I get four jobs on average.”

Happy Phiri, 24, said two weeks usually passed by without her being picked by a potential employer.

“But I am always queued here every day. Those days feel very bad, but that does not mean I should stay at home. I cannot afford to be at home.”

Kraaifontein Development Forum (KDF) secretary Louis Both said a new approach to town planning and spatial development would change the fortunes of the unemployed.

“The existing affluent economy, which exists to the northern parts of the town, needs to be integrated with especially skills development opportunities in townships like Scottsville, Scottsdene, Wallacedene and Bloekombos.”

He said the KDF had been advocating for radical investment into the township economy.

The forum has formed a partnership with the Chrysalis Academy, which teaches leadership and other skills to young people, especially school drop-outs and those in conflict with the law. “This opportunity makes youth more marketable and able to access opportunities in the job market,” he said.

They also work with the SA Institute of Management and Tshwane University of Technology and Sector Education and Training Authority to provide young people with training opportunities.

Department of Employment and Labour spokesperson Musa Zondi said their centres were inundated with registrations for job-seeking young people, with the Western Cape recording 16 300 job seekers in April and May this year.