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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Job fair: The pain of SA’s jobless youth

Tumiso Seroka and Njabulo Nxumalo join thousands seeking work at the Chinese government-backed Job Fair amid SAfrica's youth unemployment crisis.

They may be educated, but Tumiso Seroka, 28, and Njabulo Nxumalo, 27, share something in common with the 50.47% South African youth statistic – unemployment.

Among the crowd of unemployed youth who this week thronged the Chinese government-backed Job Fair 2024 at Gallagher Estate in Midrand this week to seek job opportunities, Seroka and Nxumalo, were hopeful of finding work in any of the locally based Chinese companies.

Interaction and offer employment to job seekers

The Chinese embassy in South Africa has, since 2022, been facilitating several locally based Chinese enterprises to interact and offer employment to young job seekers – covering diverse areas, which have included engineering, management, sales, telecommunications, industrial machinery and marketing.

Tumiso Seroka. Pictures: Brian Sokutu

Seroka, who completed a diploma in public management at the Tshwane North College last year, has been struggling to find work – relying on support from relatives.

“Life has been tough for me, the reason why I am here today, hoping to get something,” he said.

“I am currently staying alone in Pretoria, having come here to do job hunting. I am being financially supported by my family in Limpopo – surviving off the little that they send me. It’s difficult not to ask them for money for little things, including a transport fare to travel from Pretoria to this fair.”

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Asked about his chances of clinching a job in one of Chinese companies exhibiting at the fair, Seroka said he was not too sure.

“There are too many of us who have turned up here today and some of the companies are looking for people with experience, which we do not have,” he said.

“But we hope for the best. I am looking for any job, as long as I put something on the table. I have put my application in to six companies, including one that has to do with manufacturing and maintenance.”

Retrenched student

Njabulo Nxumalo. Pictures: Brian Sokutu

Nxumalo, who was retrenched by a construction company subcontracted by the Bakubung Platinum Mine is doing the fourth year of an LLB degree with the University of South Africa. “Our contract ended last December.

“With a legal background, I previously did paralegal with the South African Law School. I am looking for any opportunity that will empower me – obviously in line with my legal background.

“This fair has provided me with an opportunity to network and meet different people from different backgrounds – something to learn from,” she said.

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Reflecting on the harshness of being unemployed, Nxumalo said: “It has been tough but I have been trying other things to sustain myself. “I have a family in Soweto that has been assisting me.

“I am hopeful of finding a job, having visited some companies here which have legal positions.”

Thejane found a job in a Chinese company

Encouraging the youth to take up opportunities, Lorato Thejane of Northern Cape, who attended the 2022 Job Fair, found a job in a Chinese company. “Just like anybody here, when I attended the fair in 2022, I had just come out of school with no experience.

“I was nervous and submitted my application to one of the companies exhibiting. Fortunately, I could speak a bit of Chinese and my interview was conducted in Mandarin. I then got an opportunity to study at a Chinese university and am now a control clerk.”

She said this meant a lot to her and her family. “I can now put something on the table and my mom can get whatever she needs – happy and not stressed like before.”

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China jobs unemployment Youth Unemployment