Money remains one of the biggest hidden costs of job-seeking

In their latest research report, Youth Capital looked at the cost of job-seeking on young people. Youth Capital is a youth-led campaign with an Action Plan to shift gears on youth unemployment. The organisation partnered with research hub Open Dialogue on the research. The focus of the report was on the impact of the lockdown on young people’s ability to look for work. The report was launched on May 5. 

During the launch, there was a live conversation. Hlumela Dyantyi (campaign manager at DG Murray Trust) facilitated the conversation featuring Senwelwe Mthembu (researcher at the Centre for Social Development in Africa, University of Johannesburg), Kristal Duncan-Williams (project lead at Youth Capital), and researcher and financial journalist Duma Gqubule.


Ambitious strategies are needed to turn the corner on South Africa’s youth unemployment crisis

In compiling the report, Youth Capital were supported by JobJack, Hire Me and Youth Employment Service (YES) in sharing their survey across their networks of young people. The report: “Beyond the Cost: What does it really cost young people to look for work?” builds on the research of the Siyakha Youth Assets for Employability Study by the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) at the University of Johannesburg. The study came out in 2016. 

The Siyakha report assessed the work and training outcomes of young people who participate in youth employability programmes. It showed how young, talented people continue to be “locked out” of the labour market. The study also found that young South Africans spend on average R938 per month looking for work.

The “Beyond the Cost” report surveyed around 2200 young people through an online survey. This report is important for many reasons. One of those is that a lot of attention has been given to creating opportunities and driving development. Yet, not much attention has been given to how young people are being locked out even accessing these opportunities in the first place. 

According to Stats SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey of the 1st quarter of 2021, young people are still struggling in the South African labour market. The official unemployment rate was 32,6%. This rate was 46,3% among young people aged 15 – 34 years. This rate implies that almost one in every two young people in the labour force did not have a job in the first quarter of 2021. Additionally, some of these young people have become discouraged from participating in the labour market. They are also not building on their skills base through education and training – they are not in employment, education or training (NEET).

It is this selection of young people that the Youth Capital report looks at. Through the survey which was live from August 11 to November 12 2021, they focused on the financial costs associated with looking for work, the length of time job-seeking takes, and the initial impact of zero-rated platforms. 

For many young people who are classified as “job-seekers” they often have to make tough choices between spending money on looking for work or buying food. They also have to rely on favours from family, friends or acquaintances in order to have money to seek a job. The lockdown and pandemic conditions worsened these conditions, the survey respondents said as things got a lot more expensive. 

One of the survey respondent said: “I have to make choice; either look for a job or put food on the table.” 


YOUTH VOICE: Interview with Sihle Ma-Awu, employee of the YearBeyond Programme and tertiary student

To conclude the report, Youth Capital said while the tools are available to overcome the obstacles related to job seeking there is a need for solutions to go beyond job seeking. After all, even if the financial costs element is solved, there still remain many barriers for young people who are job seeking. In order to overcome all these obstacles, holistic solutions are needed that factor in all these different issues. 

Read the full report here: 

Beyond the Cost: What does it really cost young people to look for work?