Youth unemployment in South Africa was already a crisis, but Covid-19 has turned it into a catastrophe. Solving this catastrophe by accelerating labour-intensive growth has to be the country’s highest priority
Three out of every four South Africans (74.7%) between the ages of 15 and 24 who want a job cannot find one.
Unless large numbers of young people get jobs soon, politics will continue to fracture and become increasingly dysfunctional, human potential will be wasted, and hopes of achieving a more inclusive, stable, and prosperous country will remain merely pipedreams.
As Nobel Laureate Paul Romer put it, “If you can’t solve the problem of getting young people into work, it may not matter what other problems you do solve.”
As we commemorate Youth Day in 2021, it is important to appreciate that our current approach to economic growth, jobs, and education is failing young people. We urgently need to rethink our approach to the labour market to absorb unskilled young jobseekers into formal jobs.