Youth Month: CBE plans to tackle unemployment

Young people should work in the Built Environment

Young people should work in the Built Environment

Published Jun 16, 2024


The Council for Built Environment (CBE) has launched an initiative tackling youth unemployment and skills gap in the “Built Environment Sector.”

Following Statistics South Africa’s report of a 45.5% unemployment rate among 15-34-year-olds for Quarter 1 of 2024, surpassing the national average of 32.9%, CBE launched the Built Environment National Logbook (BENL) on March 8, 2024.

The organisation said that BENL is a comprehensive database that not only tracks students, graduates, professionals, and artisans but also provides academic support, historic debt payment assistance, work skills training, entrepreneurial awareness, and other opportunities.

In a statement released on Friday, CBE said the pressure of inequality, poverty and the skills shortage in the Built Environment sector were exacerbating this problem.

“In 2023, the CBE conducted a research study on factors hampering the registration of candidates in the Built Environment professions. The aim was to put forth measures to boost the number of professionally registered persons.

“Over 500 unemployed graduates, primarily aged 20-29 participated in this study. It was discovered that factors such as complex registration processes, steep fees, lack of work exposure, and limited mentorship are hindering the path towards professional registration.

“Recognising the need to foster youth engagements, we also introduced the Youth Programme, with the CBE CEO initiating conversations with youth to address challenges and develop innovative solutions within the sector.”

In celebration of Youth Month, the organisation said it would launch the Council for the Built Environment Youth Assembly.

“There will be a stimulating round-table discussion on June 21, at Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria-West Campus. This will mark the Launch of the Council for the Built Environment Youth Assembly.

“This programme aims to immerse the youth in sustainable practices, technological advancements, and emerging design approaches within the sector. They will be networked with other students and young professionals, empowered about career pathways, and encouraged to actively participate in the established Youth Assembly.

“The journey towards economic empowerment and skills development may be long, but with measures such as these, we believe in creating a brighter future for South Africa's youth in the Built Environment sector,” the CBE said.

According to a report released last month by StatsSA, a person’s chances of landing and keeping a job are also greatly influenced by their level of education. Compared to those without matric, those with tertiary education have a greater chance of transitioning from unemployment or inactivity into employment.

“The nine provinces in the country display diversity in labour market dynamics, with variations in employment trends. Access to opportunities is also dependent upon geographical location, with urban areas generally offering better employment prospects than rural.

“For instance, the Western Cape exhibits higher absorption rates and lower levels of unemployment as compared to KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape,” read the report.

StatsSA stated that discouraged job seekers who were available for work but did not actively seek employment during the reference period, constituted a noteworthy demographic.

“In 2024, only 2.8% of young individuals aged between 15 and 34 years were categorised as discouraged in the Western Cape, whereas this figure stood at 13.9% in Limpopo. Over the span of 2004 to 2024, seven out of the nine provinces experienced declines in the proportion of discouraged youth, with the Northern Cape experiencing the most significant reduction of 7.3% points.

“Conversely, the North West (with an increase of 3.3% points) and KwaZulu-Natal (with an increase of 1.9% points) were the only provinces where the number of discouraged individuals grew in 2024 compared to 2004,” reported StatsSA.

StatsSA stressed that efforts to address youth unemployment required a comprehensive approach encompassing education reform, skills development initiatives, and targeted employment programs.

It asserted that collaboration between the government, private sector, and civil society is essential to create an enabling environment for youth employment.

The organisation felt that policies promoting entrepreneurship and small business development empower young people to create their own opportunities.

“Addressing youth unemployment not only contributes to economic growth but also fosters social cohesion and reduces inequality, laying the foundation for a more inclusive and prosperous society,” read StatsSA report.

Lead Economist and Program Leader at the World Bank, Jacques Morisset proposed three policy changes or strokes of the pen that mainly require political consensus, not additional money.

He suggested the finance minister lower the entry tax rate of personal income tax from 18% to, say, 5% or increase the threshold at which a citizen starts to pay the personal income tax.

Morisset’s second policy change proposal included existing social transfers to encourage poor workers to enter the labour market, including through reduced transport costs.

His third policy proposal was to facilitate additional job opportunities closer to the homes of low-income workers – automatically reducing transport costs.

Sunday Independent