Thousands of young graduates cannot find jobs in South Africa as the country struggles with dismal economic growth, high unemployment and inequalities that has persisted two decades after the end of white-minority rule.
Every year, thousands of students graduate from universities across South Africa. For many, a degree is the only way out of poverty.
“It’s not even about me anymore, cause everyday when I think about this unemployment thing, when I’m alone I just think of what’s going to happen to those people who are doing first year, what’s going to happen to all those graduating now – 700 of them? Where are they going to find employment?” added Kwena.
According to KC Makhubele, a recruitment agent who helps students find jobs, the situation is further complicated by employers who are reluctant to hire people with no experience.
“South Africa is not really geared to transition a graduate into a working employee. So even though you have got a degree, they expect you to come with an experience, but there is no one who is really ready to give you experience,” said Makhubele.
When universities announced a hike in 2016 tuition fees of as much as 11.5 percent, it was the last straw for many students who joined thousands of others, in protests across the country, united under the Twitter hashtag #FeesMustFall.
Andile has a bursary for her postgraduate studies but has a massive debt of over 6500 U.S. dollars, which she is yet to pay off for her undergraduate studies.
“We are suffering debt slavery and we are just going to spend the rest of our lives paying back the money, and money we don’t even have. Taking into account the high unemployment in South Africa., getting the degrees and etcetera but you go out there, first you have to find the job. I mean who is to say that when I come out here I’m gonna get a job?” she said.
The future of South Africa’s expanding population of jobless youth remains uncertain. Analysts warn that the unemployment crisis is a ticking time bomb and is one of the government’s most pressing challenges, especially as the country heads towards crucial local elections in August.
The polls pose a major test for President Jacob Zuma’s ANC, with the party facing a strong challenge from opponents amid a struggling economy.