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Unemployment is recognised as one of the most challenging social problems currently facing the world. In the past two decades and more recently with the global recession, high levels of unemployment have become an established feature of the world social and economic landscape, with young people aged 15 to 24 years among those hard- hit by unemployment.

Unemployment puts health at risk, and the risk is higher in regions where unemployment is widespread. There have been specific studies on the effects of unemployment on women and adult men but the interest has focused on the effects of unemployment on young people given that employment plays a pivotal role in helping young people negotiate the transitional period between the child and adulthood, as it is a key factor in healthy identity development.

In Eswatini the unemployment rate continues to hike. Today, we have both educated and uneducated unemployed people. We have skilled and unskilled unemployed youths both in urban and rural areas. Even degree holders are unemployed. Factors that worsen this include inflation, corruption, disability and nepotism. For most individuals, basic life requirements are met through employment.

However, work does much more than supply the means for meeting physical needs; it also can satisfy creative urges, promote self-esteem and provide an avenue for achievement and self-realization. Conversely, unemployment might increase anxiety and depression, lead to lower self-esteem and produce adverse physical health consequences, particularly when efforts to locate work are met with failure over a long period of time. Unemployment is associated with a marked decline in self-esteem.

The economic strain of unemployment also reduces the individual’s control over life situations. Economic problems diminish short-term control of life situations; it becomes difficult to uphold the desired standard of living. This, in turn, reduces long-term control of the life course, as financial problems make planning impossible.

‘Delayed retirement’ is another major challenge facing the country as the aging population is put on contracts while on the other hand the younger generation is searching for jobs. Cry my beloved Eswatini, kuyoze kubenini na?

N Simelane

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