In keeping with the spirit of 1976 Soweto Uprising, Women in Science in partnership with the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and Impact Centre will hold a dialogue to commemorate the role the youth played in the events surrounding the historical day. The dialogue will also look at developing activities and reflecting on the history, present realities and future of young people in the country.
It will also focus on the unemployment crisis in the country particularly the youth who are most acutely affected. The idea is to conceptualise an innovative research approach to confront the challenges and prospects associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which has raised contentious debates about its role in job creation.
The 2021 quarterly labour force survey showed that the unemployment rate increased substantially compared to the last quarter of 2020. Furthermore, in an expanded definition that includes job seekers, unemployment is at 43.2%. According to Statistics South Africa, the unemployment rate is the highest amongst people aged 15 to 34. Thus, youth unemployment under the expanded definition is 74.7%.
South Africa is one of the countries with the highest inequalities, and the year-on-year rise in unemployment points to the need for rigorous engagement on policy, innovation and the industrialisation trajectory as touted in the country’s pathways to economic recovery and job creation. The aforementioned interventions are conceptually targeted at creating employment for youth, stimulate the economic climate and reduce inequalities.
Through knowledge co-creation, innovative solutions can be crafted in order to understand domestic challenges experienced by youth especially in marginalised communities. The strategic plan of the HSRC includes utilising the national, regional and global leadership in the production and use of targeted knowledge to support the eradication of poverty, the reduction of inequalities and the promotion of employment. Through this dialogue, the Partnerships Directorate in the Impact Centre anticipates that the debate will enrich ideas, build up relations that can identify creative pockets in the public communities.
The objectives of the dialogue are to engage on the following:
- To understand the underlying challenges facing the youth in the current economic climate, especially considering the future of work;
- To establish a mechanism to support skills planning, identify capacity gaps in preparation for the labour market; and
- To ensure the youth is adequately prepared for a technology driven economy that requires young people to be proficient in science, technology and digital literacy.
Dr Michael Gastrow, the acting director at the HSRC, will preside over the dialogue. A panel, handpicked because of their relevant expertise in a range of strategic areas, will form part of the engagement. They include:
- Krish Chetty, is a chief researcher at the Inclusive Economic Development, division of the HSRC, whose core research interests focuses on knowledge management, digital inclusion, the future of work, financial technologies and renewable energy
- Wandile Ngcaweni is a junior researcher at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection and is currently completing his Honours in Development Studies at UNISA.
- Lihle Nkomo is a digital transformation specialist at CSIR and an experienced management consultant focusing on business performance improvement through utilising digital transformation.
- Nomso Kana is a nuclear scientist by trade. She founded Sun n’ Shield 84 Tech, a broadband infrastructure solutions company that is designing connectivity networks and distributing passive fibre optic products.
- Matsetsebale Tleane is the Agape Youth Movement’s managing director. He worked at the German Development Cooperation as a Technical Development Advisor. His research thesis focused on Computer Mediated Communication (Social Network Sites) and its impacts on the South African youth.
- Siphelo Ngcwangu is a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the UJ. He completed his Doctoral studies in 2016 focusing on the role of labour, business and the state in the making of South Africa’s skills development regime.
The dialogue is scheduled to take place as follows:
Date: 24 June, 2021
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