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South Africa: Young, unemployed, disempowered and looking for opportunities

By Anna Maree
Posted on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 21:10

A protester holds up a placard as students gather outside South African President Jacob Zuma's offices demanding free university education, in Pretoria, South Africa 20 October 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Apartheid ruined the youth of generation of South Africans. While the country now has democracy, how long will the cycle of youth challenges – poor-quality schools, lack of funding for education, extremely weak job prospects and a political system closed off to new voices – go unbroken?

In a speech on Youth Day on 16 June, which commemorates the 1976 uprisings of black school pupils against apartheid, President Cyril Ramaphosa said getting young people to work was his single biggest concern. “Young people are the force that drives a country and grows its economy,” he said.

Employment statistics released this month have shown that more young people than ever are out of work in South Africa.

Under the expanded definition of unemployment, 74.7% of school-leavers under the age of 24 are either looking for a job or have given up looking for a job, Statistics South Africa’s data has shown.