Letter to the Editor: Encourage temporary opportunities

By Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson on Economic Affairs in the Northern Cape:

It would not be wrong to describe youth unemployment as a crisis on the brink of a catastrophe. As the FeesMustFall University protests show, education is being systematically underfunded and crippled by national government, making fewer and fewer young South Africans equipped to take up jobs, or to start their own businesses.

At 45%, the Northern Cape has the highest youth unemployment rate in the country, which makes the province the locus of the youth crisis.

What we lack is sound policies which will create opportunities, rather than destroy jobs and dreams.

Part of the solution to the youth unemployment problem lies in encouraging and opening up temporary employment.

Through temporary employment, young people are given a fair chance to prove themselves to employers, to gain much-needed experience and to network in their respective fields. Research from the World Bank has also shown that the use of fixed-term contracts for permanent tasks incentivises businesses to create jobs for young workers. In turn, young workers receive the invaluable experience needed on almost every employment application form.

We need to maximise on these advantages, and we need temporary work opportunities to come from the private sector, and be supported by government with incentives.

Lifting the inopportune three-month time limits on temporary employment would make it easier for our youth to access economic opportunities. The current three month limit should be extended to two years, which would protect workers from being kept on temporary contracts indefinitely while the economy would benefit from the potential of the sector to create opportunities. Laws like the Basic Conditions of Employment Act ensure that the rights of the worker on a temporary contract are protected, and the length would not affect these protections.

This week’s protests have shown that the youth hasn’t given up on their futures at all. Government dare not give up on them either.

Just as FeesMustFall, so restrictions on invaluable temporary experience opportunities must fall too.