Reflecting on two projects that are giving young people a voice by Khuliso Matidza

Date: June 30, 2023 |


I am currently working on a social policy project titled “Youth and the Future of Work: Rethinking Social Protection and Social Contracts in the Context of the Gig Economy.” In the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), the landscape of work has undergone significant changes. Within the Global South, young individuals are confronted with the pressing issue of high unemployment rates. In response, governmental bodies and various stakeholders have collaborated to address the youth unemployment crisis. The gig economy, characterised by employers hiring workers on a temporary basis rather than through traditional employment arrangements, has become increasingly prevalent. Many young people grab the opportunity to participate in the gig economy to generate income, particularly because these tasks can often be performed digitally and remotely. However, the absence of formal employment ties between gig workers and platform owners leaves many without social protections such as unemployment insurance, medical aid, or sick leave. Consequently, youth face not only vulnerability to unemployment but also precariousness when working as gig workers. As a youth member myself, I am deeply invested in this study as it allows me to engage with fellow young individuals, listen to their struggles, and involve them in influencing social policies that will ultimately benefit them in the long run.

I also recently worked on a project titled “The effects of Covid-19 on in-school nutrition: the voice of the child,” conducted by the CSDA for the Tiger Brands Foundation (TBF). Poverty is a widespread challenge among children globally, and it serves as the root cause of various other difficulties they encounter. Inadequate nutrition is a persistent issue that starts during infancy and continues to affect individuals throughout their adult lives. Organisations like the World Food Programme and UNICEF are dedicated to addressing these challenges. In South Africa, the government has implemented the National School Nutrition Programme, collaborating with private organisations such as the TBF to ensure that children’s nutritional needs are met. However, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted these programmes, subsequently affecting children’s access to school meals. To comprehend the impact of this disruption on children’s learning, energy levels, and overall physical and emotional well-being, we conducted a study to gather their perspectives. I was genuinely proud of the children’s ability to express their feelings, particularly because they recognised the significance of their voices in shaping future implementation strategies. The Voice of the Child Study can be found here. The findings from the study were presented at a webinar held on 24 May 2023 and can be viewed here.

As youth working in the CSDA, we encounter challenges that involve engaging with people’s struggles on a daily basis. This can be through direct communication, reading, or exposure to media. Our constant concern revolves around our fellow unemployed youth and individuals living in poverty. We hope that the research conducted at the CSDA is recognised and utilised in decision-making processes that ultimately benefit people.

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