Problem Statement

Unemployment is a major issue in South Africa, rooted deep in the country’s history. At the end of apartheid in 1994, over a third of the labour force was unemployed. High unemployment rates are partly due to rapid industrialization and urbanization in the mid-1970s, which caused a population shift to urban areas in search of opportunities that did not exist in the rural areas. High unemployment rates also stem from the social and economic structure of the country under apartheid. Businesses were given tax breaks on capital investments that adopted labour-saving practices. Instead of employing large numbers of unskilled workers at low wages, smaller numbers of skilled workers were hired at higher wages (Nattrass, 2004). The opportunities that so many had come to the cities to find were few and far between. Recent surveys show that there are continuing high levels of unemployment and that the current economy of Cape Town favours skilled labour positions over unskilled positions, such as gardening (City, 2009).
A study done by Kingdon and Knight looked at unemployment rates among different groups showing that certain groups are more likely to enter into and remain unemployed than others. Their data showed that 41.2% of Africans were unemployed, compared to only 6.3% of whites. 38.7% of people with no formal education were unemployed, compared to 5.7% of people with higher than secondary level educations. This suggests that although employment opportunities may be available, many of the unemployed don’t have the education or skills to fill the positions (Kingdon, 2005). According to a recent report, 74.7% of individuals in a Cape Town informal settlement, The Graveyard Pond, have not been able to find fulltime jobs (Drivdal, 2011).
With high rates of unemployment and poverty in Cape Town, the City government has emphasised creating sustainable livelihoods for the disadvantaged. The City’s Office of Sustainable Livelihoods has led this programme, which aligns with their mission to create jobs for the unemployed while stimulating the local economy and promoting environmentally friendly practices. Local gardeners grow high market value produce on rooftops in the Central Business District (CBD), creating jobs and developing entrepreneurship.

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