Symposium to investigate experiences around unemployment

Belinda Bantham -- Wed, 06/13/2018 - 10:13

Symposium to investigate experiences around unemployment

The Optentia research focus area at the North-West University (NWU), together with the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium and with the support of the Flemish Interuniversity Board, are hosting a symposium on unemployment in South Africa on 13 and 14 September 2018.

Unemployment is one of the most significant challenges South Africa faces as it prevents the country achieving its two key strategic objectives: eliminating poverty and reducing inequality.

Unemployment also has detrimental consequences. At macro-level low-income households are heavily burdened as the unemployed person has to support many dependents. At micro level the individuals themselves suffer from being unemployed.

Sponsored by the Flemish Interuniversity Board, Optentia and KU Leuven investigated the experiences of unemployed people in townships in South Africa over the past five years. The overall aim of the project was to expand knowledge about the experience of unemployment within the South African context.

From a developmental perspective, the researchers aimed to develop and evaluate an evidence-based intervention which can alleviate unemployed individuals’ burden and foster their adaptive orientation towards the labour market by enhancing their well-being. 

To sustainably support evidence-based interventions, the second development goal of this project was to enhance research capacity and encourage scholars to do research in general and on unemployment in particular.

The purpose of the symposium is to disseminate findings of various research projects regarding the experiences, motivation and behaviour of unemployed people in townships in South Africa, while also reporting on interventions dealing with unemployment (including the effectiveness of a career skills programme for unemployed people).

Another objective of the symposium will be to identify challenges and opportunities for researchers, practitioners and students working with unemployment and unemployed people, while building multi-disciplinary networks of researchers, policymakers and practitioners to tackle the challenges associated with unemployment.

More information on the symposium is available on the Optentia website at