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What Does Youth Day 2022 Mean to Me as a Gen Z?

Youth Day 2022 in South Africa sets as a reminder to leaders across the globe of the struggle that youth today are facing—yet, they continue to show resilience.

Youth Day 2022 is coming soon in South Africa. As the SHL’s intern group of 2022, Lamia Dil Hossain, Molemole Seima, Raeesa Mathews, and Itu Manoko have reflected on what this Youth Day means to them. Most of these interns are part of Generation Z, the demographic cohort born in the mid to late 1990s. As South Africans, this is critical to their perception of their upbringing as 1992 was the entry into a democratic society whereby all people of color were considered equal under the law. A significant day during the Apartheid era was 16 June 1976 when 20,000 students marched against the inferior Bantu education system provided to the Black community. Looking back at this day, the interns reflect on stepping into the working world as young adults and how the past has shaped their perspectives as employees in South Africa presently.

What Youth Day 2022 means to them as a Gen Z

Lamia Dil Hossain, Marketing Intern at SHL South Africa

The essence and importance of June 16 will always remain in our hearts. The Soweto Uprising gave us the right to education and the right to use our voices without hesitation. This is what brought about one of the greatest days in history and we are so grateful. Not only were we awarded a better education system, but we were given the strength to believe that we can fight for our rights. The strength to believe that every single one of us matters and that our voices do not go unheard.

The youth of today are very lucky to live in a world that gives us the opportunity to have the freedom to speak, to have an education, and to live a life without fear, and I am grateful because the youth of 1976 fought for this day.

We still have our daily struggles. The youth today face a very high unemployment rate and sadly, it is difficult to get jobs in our fields of study. However, together I believe, we will be able to conquer this. This is a country where each and every one of us, no matter what gender, color, race, sexuality, or age, we all have the freedom to live in a country that allows us to be who we are without fear. Being a 23-year-old Muslim Indian female, born to foreign parents who moved here in 1993, and thereafter living a full life in South Africa, I have always felt accepted and heard. So as a Gen Z, Youth Day 2022 means three things to me: Freedom, Fearless, and Future.

As a Gen Z, Youth Day 2022 means three things to me: Freedom, Fearless, and Future.

Molemole Seima, Human Resources Intern at SHL South Africa

Youth Day for me is the day to reflect as a young South African to be proud of the youth of 1976 and those who fought for our freedom. It is a day to mark in the history of our country what youth are capable of achieving if they come together as a collective—this goes to show that we are capable of ending the high rate of unemployment among our youth if we come together as a collective. The day should not only be made to remember the injustice of the past but also be a day to take pride in that the youth of today are the heroes of tomorrow as the youth of 1976 are the heroes of our today. As we commemorate the day, may we take it upon ourselves as the youth to make a difference in our country and to be fearless and affirmed that we will lead the country to a better tomorrow.

We are capable of ending the high rate of unemployment among the youth if we come together as a collective.

Raeesa Mathews, Professional Services/Industrial-Organizational Psychology Intern at SHL South Africa

The 16th of June, Youth Day, is an important reminder about the struggles that people of color fought in this country. As a woman who would have been classified as a colored in the Apartheid regime, I would not have had easy access to get a tertiary education. I was born in 1997, just past being a millennial and barely feeling like a Gen Z, in Cape Town to parents with limited socio-economic opportunities. As I grow older, I am so grateful for the privileges and decisions my parents made during one of the tensest times in this country. They could have easily not chosen to pursue tertiary education. However, my mother, a young aspiring social worker at the age of 17, applied for a permit to study at the University of Cape Town in 1982. My father redid his matric and attended the University of Stellenbosch part-time whilst working in the 2000s. And now decades later, they have two children with postgraduate degrees from the top university in South Africa.

All these decisions were so critical to building the person I am today, and I will never be able to show enough gratitude for what my parents did to make a better life for my family. Youth Day is such an important reminder to me that access to quality education is one of the most privileged assets in this country. It can never be taken for granted. Even as time moves further and further away from when the Apartheid regime was lawful, the effects can be seen today in the workforce of this country and particularly with the youth unemployment rates. I believe the baton of this hypothetical race to fair and equitable opportunities for those most vulnerable in society has been passed to the youth of today. Even though different battles are being fought, such as the right to free tertiary education (Fees Must Fall), the youth play a critical role in creating, implementing, and maintaining ways to make everyone equal in society. I hope that I and the rest of this generation do not take our privileges for granted and continue to work towards providing everyone the opportunity to thrive within South Africa.

Youth Day is such an important reminder to me that access to quality education is one of the most privileged assets in this country.

Itu Manoko, Customer Experience Intern

Growing up during our country’s transition into democracy continues to be both a challenge and an empowering experience. A challenge in the fact that I continue to bear witness to the disheartening realities that face our country today such as the issue of rising youth unemployment, it becomes extremely unfortunate and detrimental to the overall development of a country when its future leaders are not recognized and provided opportunities to realize their potential. But with that said, I continue to be hopeful and further empowered as a Soweto native myself and a granddaughter of those that marched during the Soweto Uprising on June 16,1976; who grew up hearing stories of bravery and unmatched heroism from the many social justice warriors that stood up against an unjust and racist system.

By exposing the system as illegitimate, the youth of 76’ was successful in redefining the black identity and its place in society while also demanding changes in the status quo. Changes that today, even though the many socioeconomic growing pains that our young democratic country continues to face, are evident through the production of current educated and immovable young black South Africans like myself. I feel a sense of pride knowing that my existence today is a direct product of those who fought for what was right, and that is what this Youth Day means to me. It means that those who fought previously did not do so in vain—their blood, sweat, and tears have paved a way for young black people like me to realize our strengths and rightful place in society. Even though we still have a long way to go in realizing the hopes and wishes of those that fought before us, we continue to take action and fight for an equal and just South Africa.

I feel a sense of pride knowing that my existence today is a direct product of those who fought for what was right, and that is what this Youth Day means to me.

Youth day 2022 in South Africa sends a reminder across the globe of today’s youth’s struggle to fight equally and fairly for their place in the workspace. Throughout history, they have proven to be resilient in the face of adversity, and organizations today will only benefit from hiring fresh graduates, which consist of mostly Gen Z. Therefore, hiring managers to need to start recruiting for potential rather than experience, for they are the leader of our future.

Download our whitepaper: Equipping Gen Z to Lead an Unpredictable Future to learn how you can prepare early career talent to lead your organization in the future!

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SHL South Africa 2022 Interns

The SHL South Africa interns come from different backgrounds and experiences, yet they come together to write a piece that is so dear to them as they have all experienced the plight of unemployment. They are graduates from various fields. Raeesa is a Master’s candidate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Lamia is an Honors graduate in Bachelor of Commerce, with majors in Marketing and Management. Itu is an Honors graduate in Bachelor of Social Science, Psychology and is currently studying her Master’s of Social Science in Research Psychology and Molemole is an Honor’s graduate in Bachelor of Commerce with majors in Managerial and Organizational Psychology. They are here to break the barriers with their innovative ideas, push their boundaries as well as make the most of every opportunity that comes their way.

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