Briefing Paper

Tackling Youth Unemployment: Before You Vote, Ask Questions, Demand Answers

Young South Africans enter the job market with a rosy view of their employment prospects.
Many of them soon experience bitter disappointment. Out of a population of 20 million young people
between the ages of 15 and 34, 7,9 million are neither working nor in any form of education or training. In the fourth quarter of 2018, 3,9 million young people reported having looked for work but being unable to find it. The dysfunctionality of the education system is clearly part of the problem. Sixty per cent of those who enter the job market without a matric certificate are jobless. Many of the young people who fail to find work will be condemned to a lifetime of exclusion from the main currents of economic life, especially formal sector employment, for most if not all of their lives.
Given the role a youth bulge can play in accelerating an economy’s growth, the failures of the labour
market constitute a vast waste of South Africa’s resources. It is also a terrible human tragedy that
crushes the hopes of millions of citizens, poisoning our communities and our politics.