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REFRACTED ECONOMIES: Reimagining youth livelihoods in an age of technological innovation

23 April 2020
12:30 - 14:30

Professor Sharlene Swartz,
Krish Chetty and Seipati Mokhema

Mr Imraan Patel, Deputy Director-General, Department of Science and Innovation

Dr Tashmia Ismail-Saville, CEO, Youth Employment Service

Dr Glenda Kruss,

Date: 23 April 2020     
Time: 12h15 for 12h30 – 14h30
Venues Livestream

Below is the SoundCloud link for 23 April Refracted economies seminar:

The future of work in a technological age is topical, especially in the context of wide-scale youth unemployment. Current conversations centre on helping young people enter existing professions, become entrepreneurs or enhance (often science) skills development with a view towards salaried employment.

Often missing are more nuanced conversations, including how entrepreneurship, skills, knowledge, formality, sustainability, permanence, and dignity exist along a continuum when it comes to describing ‘work’. Also missing is how work as we know it – full-time, permanent and along a single trajectory – is unlikely to be the norm as we fully  enter the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). Should we not begin to differentiate between gigs, jobs, careers, livelihoods, and employment? Might we not help young people think differently about work: where it might be available and how it might change?

In this seminar we offer a taxonomy of economies (colour coded and hence termed ‘refracted economies’) to help all concerned with young people’s futures. We offer ideas for how a refracted economies’ lens might help us generate new ideas for career guidance, how it will aid us in reimagining technical and vocational education (TVET) curricula and how it can provoke us to rethinking the research and re-equipping role of the university as we embrace innovation as the new normal.
Prof Sharlene Swartz is the Divisional Executive for the newly constituted Inclusive Economic Development programme at the HSRC and is an Adjunct Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Fort Hare. Her expertise and current research centres on the just inclusion of youth in a transforming society.  Her books include Studying While Black: Race, education and emancipation in South African universities (2018); Another Country: Everyday social restitution (2016); Youth Citizenship and the Politics of Belonging (2013); and Ikasi: The moral ecology of South Africa’s township youth (2009). Krish Chetty and Seipati Mokhema are researchers in the same programme.

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Kindly RSVP by 22 April 2020

Pretoria: HSRC Video Conference Room, 1st  floor HSRC Library, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria.
Contact Arlene Grossberg  | T: (012) 302 2811  | E:
Cape Town: HSRC Video Conference Room, Merchant House 116-118 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town.
Contact Shouneez Khan| T: (021) 466 7948 | E:
Durban: HSRC Video Conference Room, The Atrium, 5th Floor, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Berea, 4001.
Contact Ridhwaan Khan  | T: (031) 242 5400  | C: 083 788 2786  | E:  or Wiseman Mbambo  E:

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DSI. Please also note that this seminar may be recorded and published on the HSRC podcast channel.