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The intersection between youth unemployment and the real estate sector

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In recent years one of the constant challenges for the youth in South Africa has been the rampant unemployment rate which has seen many unskilled and even skilled young people struggling to enter the job market and contribute to the economy.  By research some industries in the marketplace are either too saturated or cannot sufficiently absorb young talent which then leaves them in the quagmire of unemployment; however the real estate sector provides an opportunity for unemployed youth to maximize the opportunities available, which range from internal to external services and link back to one being able to be self-employed or after having received enough mentoring and knowledge end up running their own real estate agency.

According to Statistics South Africa which released the latest unemployment data on 1st June 2021, the rate of unemployment increased by 0,1% percentage points to 32,6% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to quarter 4 of 2020 with the rate of joblessness in South Africa remaining to about 7.2 million in the first quarter of 2021. These figures can be further attributed to there being a massive skills gap amongst the youth, whether formally educated or not and thus the real estate sector being broad as it is, provides the platform to at least attempt to reduce these numbers.

Furthermore, with more than half (52,3%) of the 7.2 million unemployed persons having had education levels of below matric and only 7,5% of those having other tertiary qualifications, the founder and principal of real estate agency Snooks Estates Matseleng Mogodi is urging the youth in the unemployment line to consider the real estate sector as an alternative “from what I have observed over the last 23 years of being active in real estate is that the opportunities are vast and keep evolving for the youth to explore, with one of them being an agent who can build and grow themselves to be an entrepreneur who can solve complex problems within the sector, as the industry is largely commission based” she says.

Nevertheless, the real estate sector provides various careers under it which young people can explore whether skilled or unskilled as the industry incubates the unemployed with various internship programs being introduced from time as Mrs Mogodi further elaborates “internship and learnership opportunities are a constant  feature in real estate, and from the young people that I have taken in full time during this course, have been efficient and some grabbed the opportunities presented to them, even to that extent of others helping in introducing innovative solutions that have aided Snooks Estates as a business and brand with a prime example being the virtual client services system for clients to be able to connect with Snooks Estates far more efficiently” she says.

With unemployment largely concentrated on the youth aged between 15 to 24 years, with a rate of 63,2% and those aged between 25 and 34 with a rate of 41,2% the careers available within the real estate are include, being a residential property agent which is common, a commercial agent, a leasing consultant, a commercial leasing manager, a foreclosure specialist and corporate real estate manager to mention but a few, with some of them being utilized either simultaneously or individually.

In combating youth unemployment, what the real estate sector further teaches people is the ability to sell, which is at its core, whether it is a service or even a house, this is an essential skill which also speaks to one carrying an entrepreneurial mind-set which is much needed within the real estate sector for survival, and also speaks to how one is able to differentiate themselves from other property practitioners within the marketplace as it is a very competitive industry and thus requires adequate brand positioning from an individual either entering or already operating within the sector.

Matseleng Mogodi also stressed the importance of mentorship within real estate as young talent is being absorbed and as a principal over years she has witnessed the importance of guiding young people who are eager to learn and make something of themselves within the sector and as evidence some of the mentees have gone on to either open their own real estate firms or have gone to work in the corporate environment of an established property organisation.

In addition, Matseleng Mogodi further mentions that since the government has unfortunately not been able to create sufficient jobs for the youth in South Africa as well as her worry about the state of the youth, and how things would look like in 5 or 10 years now. She encourages young people to stand up as they have seen that certain ways of fighting the system work temporarily, but working on themselves and build from there, the question then would be, what do young people want and what are they willing to do to get it?.

Finally, with unemployment being declared a national emergency by government in 2021, it is then imperative that the real estate sector, with particular focus on real estate agencies must ensure the employment quality is of the highest standard as many young people entering the marketplace tend to struggle with this. Research from the Global Employment Trends For Youth Report for 2017 has further found that while finding employment is a major concern, the quality of jobs remains a prominent challenge, as many young people who have acquired employment are still unable to lift themselves and their families out of poverty, as their jobs are often informal, thus they have no legal or social protection.

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