Hacking SA’s high female unemployment rate: How ICT can open up opportunities
11 August 2017
Women in South Africa are the most affected by the growing unemployment rate, according to figures from StatsSA.
Figures released yesterday for the second quarter of 2017 national employment rate reveal that South Africa’s unexpanded unemployment rate remained the same at 27.7%.
When broken down according to gender, there are large disparities in the labour market, with the unemployment rate among females being higher than males. Women are also less likely to participate in the labour market.
The reason behind this is a concoction of many factors including South Africa’s history, societal standards, gender roles and sexism in the labour market and how the economy has traditional operated.
Opportunities in the traditional labour fields are also on a downward trend with a number of jobs in previously thriving industries being rendered redundant, which means if employment is to grow again, now and in the future, we need to be looking at more modern, non-traditional sectors, to open up more opportunities.
One of these sectors is ICT, coding in particular, which has a wealth of growing opportunities which if given training and access to, women could tap into to escape the jaws of unemployment and ultimately, poverty.
“I believe there are many opportunities and the biggest issue is actually skills development – even to become an entrepreneur you need certain skills such as financial management. A lot of young people and in particular women need critical skills training such as computer literacy and financial literacy to enable them to be participants in the economy as employees or entrepreneurs. Recent stats have revealed that black women are the largest unemployed group and so its imperative to create sustainable initiatives to alleviate the high unemployment rate,” says Zandile Keebine, Chairwoman of GirlCode.
Keebine explains that starting off in primary and high school with introducing coding in school the curriculum is a good place to start.
“In 2016, the City of Johannesburg and Microsoft entered into an partnership to train more than one million people in some of Johannesburg’s disadvantaged areas with free basic computer skills. This is the kind of initiative which needs to be implemented within the school system nationally.”
“However the reality is that in government schools few of the teachers are computer literate and the students aren’t really “empowered” in how they can use the computers and what career paths they could go into. One doesn’t need to be a visionary to see the limitations here. Government might not have the skills and capacity to the run the programs, however this is an opportunity for SMEs and NGOs to run the programs on behalf of government. There has to be a collaboration across various entities to be able to create a sustainable program that will allow for a nationwide skills development program within schools,” she says.