A study of graduates' experience of unemployment in Durban, South Africa.
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Since the statistics on employment constitute one of the yardsticks in determining how well an economy is fairing, it is not surprising that tackling unemployment is a topmost agenda item for most countries, including South Africa. However, despite government’s renewed focus in tackling the problem in South Africa, youth unemployment has been on an upward trend and is now much higher than that of adults. While one can appreciate the magnitude of youth unemployment in South Africa due to the publication of various statistics, it is however worrying that most research that has been conducted on this phenomenon has ignored the subjective experience of unemployment. This study explored the subjective experience of graduate youths unemployed and residing in one of the cities that is most affected by youth unemployment in South Africa (Durban). A qualitative descriptive approach was used in the study design, data collection and data analysis. Multiple purposive sampling was used to select 20 participants who met stringent inclusion criteria. A semi-structured interview guide was used to conduct eight in-depth interviews and two focus group discussions (6 participants in each group). The data was thereafter analysed using qualitative content analysis. The qualitative content analysis yielded four themes: (1) the reality of unemployment; (2) engaging with the reality of unemployment; (3) the impact of unemployment and (4) combating the destructive reality of unemployment. A further 15 sub-themes were also arrived at. An exploration of the experience of unemployed graduates provided insights into the reality of unemployment from the youth’s perspectives. The participants discussed a number of strategies that might be used to better their experiences and these were considered as recommendations for practice and policy.