A recent report published by the government of South Africa has described youth unemployment as an acute problem in African.
The report titled, “Confronting Youth Unemployment” stated that Africa has an acute problem of youth unemployment that requires a multi-pronged strategy to raise employment and support inclusion and social cohesion.
It further said that high youth unemployment meant that young people were not acquiring the skills or experience needed to drive the economy forward and added that this inhibited the country’s economic development and imposes a larger burden on the state to provide social assistance.
Summarising the salient facts about youth employment in South Africa alone, the report said “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”
It further stated that the approach adopted by governments identified the need to develop a multi-pronged strategy to tackle youth unemployment and noted that policy options to support youth employment would provide an additional lever for governments to create jobs and would not be limited to any particular sector.
“In certain areas, such as tourism, the New Growth Path already identifies opportunities for youth. These include improving training, as well as identifying employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth” it noted.
The report pointed out that addressing youth unemployment required both short- and long-term measures that encompass increasing demand for labour, improving education and skills, and labour market interventions that improve the employability of young people.
The report also said, “Skills deficiencies contribute to this gap and make education and skills development a priority for governments. Education interventions need to raise the quality of basic and higher education, re-engage drop-outs with the education system and provide an environment that cultivates academic, technical and vocational skills”