The high levels of youth unemployment in South Africa is a national crisis. At the end of 2016, there were just over 20 million young people (i.e., people aged between 15 and 34 years) in South Africa. Of these, about 6 million had jobs and about 6 million were in school or some other educational institution. The remainder – over 7.5 million young people – were NEETS (not in employment, education or training).
Finding employment for the millions of young people who are currently not employed or receiving any skills training is South Africa’s most important challenge.
The two most important goals must be to ensure much faster economic growth and to implement labour market reforms.
In our view, South Africa needs to seriously rethink its approach to the challenge of youth unemployment.
We need to put economic growth led by the most labour-intensive sectors of the economy at the centre of our development strategy. This means focusing on the reforms needed to spur more rapid growth in business investment, and, in particular, to emphasise those reforms that have the potential to facilitate the rapid expansion of labour-intensive and export-focused activities.