SACBC Justice and Peace decries youth unemployment

As the country celebrated labour day on Sunday, the SACBC Justice and Peace Commission said that it is deeply worried about the growing number of unemployed young people.

The commission wants the government to explore more and better interventional measures to get more young people participating in the labour market, and with decent jobs and family stability.

“As church leaders, we wish to shine light on youth unemployment and demand urgent and pragmatic solutions.

The youth unemployment continues to pose a danger to the security of our nation and stability of our family life. It is a time bomb that shall soon explode on us.” Bishop Gabuza, the chairperson of SACBC Justice and Peace Commission has said.

The commission has also called on the government to rethink its policy on youth wage subsidy and its ability to make a significant dent on the current levels of youth unemployment.

“The statistics recently released by Stats SA on the state of youth unemployment and poverty in the country indicate that youth wage subsidy scheme has not been effective in eradicating youth unemployment. Despite the subsidy scheme, youth unemployment has risen from 3.14 million in 2009 to its current level of 3.38 million.”

As an employment tax incentive, the youth wage subsidy is meant to give money to businesses to encourage them to employ young people.

The government introduced the programme in January 2014 and is supposed to end on December 31 this year.

However, the 2016 Budget vote indicates that the programme will be reviewed in the third quarter of 2016 with a view to extending its life for another year.

Bishop Gabuza does not believe the extension should be considered.

“By the end of December this year, the programme is supposed to create 423 000 new jobs of which 178 000 would be net new jobs.

Even if it manages to achieve its intended objectives, it would still fall far short of the more than 3.2 million job opportunities for the youth that the country needs”.

The commission also wants the government to ask serious questions about destructive churning and indecent jobs that are associated with the youth wage subsidy.

“We have received many complaints from of our young people who are fired at the end of the subsidy period without adequate skills necessary to find a new job. We are also concerned about the systemic marginalisation of the rural youth by the programme.   We need better and inclusive interventional measures against youth unemployment.”

The interventional measures should particularly focus on the underlying causes of youth unemployment that one finds both on the demand and supply side of the job market.

This should include efforts to address investment strike by the private sector and intervention measures to tackle the domestic barriers to economic growth and skills development.

The commission also believes that South Africans should be worried about unfettered capitalism because “the realities of youth unemployment in our country are a symptom of a deeper problem of unfettered capitalism which has created a global economic crisis that the capitalists themselves are unable to solve.”

Bishop Gabuza has therefore warned that: “in a world where dignity of work is subordinated to the power of profit, we create a throw away society where a deep appreciation of the dignity of work is lost and where its youth and its elders are reduced to cost of production which can be easily discarded when it is not needed.”


For further information or interviews please contact:

Bishop Abel Gabuza

Chairperson of the Justice and Peace Commission for the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference,

Tel. 053 831 1861 or 053 831 1862     Email:


The Justice and Peace Commission is an advocacy body established by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) to tackle the structural roots of poverty and inequality.





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