Youth unemployment levels in South Africa are far higher than any other age group and more young people are discouraged from seeking work than people in any other age group.
According to official statistics, in 2006 the strict unemployment rate for youths aged 15–24 was 50,2% – almost double the general unemployment rate of 25,5%. If those who are no longer looking for work are included, the unemployment rate for young people expanded to 65,2%. This is clearly an issue of considerable concern for the country.
In order to improve information about and knowledge of youth unemployment, CDE, in conjunction with the Centre for Applied African Microeconomic Research at the University of the Witwatersrand, conducted the South African Young Persons Survey (SAYPS). This retrospective survey was conducted in three locations: Johannesburg in Gauteng, eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal, and Polokwane in Limpopo between July and November 2006.
The study traced the histories of more than 1 000 young people between the ages of 20 and 35 from their 15th birthdays onwards and enabled their education and career paths to be recorded more accurately and over longer periods than in other surveys.
The findings emerging from this research clearly indicate the need for a greater sense of urgency among policy-makers and planners. Bold strategic interventions are required at the national and local levels of government, foremost among these priorities should be fostering higher rates of economic growth and dramatically improving the education and training system.