Youth unemployment was identified as a national priority by President Cyril Ramaphosa during the 2020 SONA. Since then, the Covid-19 pandemic is sure to have worsened this crisis.
There are 6.5 million people between the ages of 15 and 34 who would take a job if offered one – 52% of the workforce in that age group. Among the very young (15 to 24 years), the rate is even higher: 70% of them are unemployed.
We need to think very hard about what to do to offset the worst of the pandemic’s effects on young workers, as well as what needs to be done to secure a quick recovery that allows for greater youth involvement in the economy.
If South Africa adopts a package of realistic policies, backed by political will and astute political management, then significant progress could be made in building a faster-growing, more labour-intensive post-pandemic economy.