The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has offered to help labour minister Thulas Nxesi analyse the policies at the root of South Africa’s unemployment crisis, and recommend pro-jobs alternatives that offer a real chance of saving South Africa’s jobless youth from poverty and hopelessness.

This is the thrust of a renewed attempt by the IRR to engage with the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) and Minister Nxesi.

In a statement headlined ‘Let’s get serious about SA’s 9.5 million jobless young people – IRR’s Youth Day challenge to Thulas Nxesi’, the IRR notes that ‘(while) opinion surveys commissioned by the IRR show that most people agree unemployment is the biggest problem in the country, the latest Stats SA labour survey shows that the number of “unemployed persons” decreased by a mere 60 000’.

The IRR goes on: ‘The stark truth about South Africa’s jobs crisis prompted IRR Head of Campaigns Gabriel Crouse to submit a written request last month for a meeting with Minister Nxesi to analyse policies that have led to the country’s high unemployment, and to recommend pro-jobs alternatives. The IRR was promised a considered response, but none has been forthcoming.

‘South Africa’s youth cannot wait forever for the DEL to contemplate replacing the current policies that underpin structural unemployment with fresh ones capable of delivering solutions.

‘In a follow-up letter to the department today, Crouse says: “I am writing from the IRR to restate our intention for engagement with DEL Minister Thulas Nxesi on South Africa’s biggest problem, unemployment. This crisis is not fundamentally getting better. According to Stats SA, the percentage of young persons aged 15 – 34 years not in employment, education or training (NEET) increased by 2.7% in the last quarter, which means over 9.5 million youth now suffer NEET status.”’

The IRR says it offers Minister Nxesi ‘respected legal and economic analysis for free, and remind him that over 23 000 South Africans have signed a petition warning that implementing new nationwide race quotas (under the Employment Equity Amendment Bill) will worsen unemployment, especially among poor black people’.

The IRR’s analysis focuses on cutting red tape, promoting non-racialism, incentivising value-add jobs rather than value-grab corruption, and putting parents back in the driving seat of public education.

‘On May 14 we were promised a response by the DEL office. We have respectfully requested an affirmative response from the minister’s office before Youth Day, June 16.’

IRR Campaign Manager Mlondi Mdluli said: ‘Now more than ever is time for the national government to swallow its pride and join forces with other organisations to find ways to tackle the country’s unemployment crisis. As the IRR, we remain committed to engaging with national government to find ways to address the country’s main challenges.’