Youth unemployment is a national crisis that must be addressed. Coping with Unemployment looks at the scale of the challenge, the difficulties young people face in finding work, the poor strategies many adopt, and the reasons why some young people may turn down employment that they feel is too badly paid or too insecure.
In 2011 29% of the population was between the ages of 15 and 29. The National Planning Commission notes that this demographic weighting can be a great asset if properly harnessed for development, but could become a source of potential destabilisation under conditions of rampant unemployment.
Young people who live in poor neighbourhoods with bad schools and little support confront an economy that generates too few jobs. Furthermore, a growing number of young people are living in environments of multi-generational unemployment.
It is critical to ensure that interventions in education, training, social support, finance and mentorship all focus on ensuring that young people are being provided with expanding opportunities to become part of – and to contribute to – the South African economy. These should always be accompanies by carefully-designed monitoring and evaluation systems to assess how effective current and future interventions are.
Young South Africans need jobs. This means that they need the economy to grow faster and with increased labour intensity; they need much better education and tertiary training opportunities; and they need a labour market regime that encourages employers to take a chance on them.