Confronting Youth Unemployment - Policy Options for South Africa

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South Africa has an acute problem of youth unemployment that requires a multi-pronged strategy to raise employment and support inclusion and social cohesion. High youth unemployment means young people are not acquiring the skills or experience needed to drive the economy forward. This inhibits the country’s economic development and imposes a larger burden on the state to provide social assistance. - About 42 per cent of young people under the age of 30 are unemployed compared with less than 17 per cent of adults over 30. - Only 1 in 8 working age adults under 25 years of age have a job compared with 40 per cent in most emerging economies. - Employment of 18 to 24 year olds has fallen by more than 20 per cent (320 000) since December 2008. - Unemployed young people tend to be less skilled and inexperienced - almost 86 per cent do not have formal further or tertiary education, while two-thirds have never worked. There are a number of explanations why young people are unemployed, these include - Employers look for skills and experience; they regard unskilled, inexperienced jobseekers as a risky investment. - Education is not a substitute for skills. Schooling is not a reliable signal of capabilities, and low school quality feeds into poor workplace learning capacity. - Given the uncertainty about the potential of school leavers, employers consider entry-level wages to be too high relative to the risk of hiring these inexperienced workers. The New Growth Path calls on the state to provide bold, imaginative and effective strategies to create the millions of new jobs that South Africans need.

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