JOHANNESBURG - The latest IMD World Competitiveness Rankings paint a grim picture of South Africa’s youth unemployment, with the country ranked No 62 out of the 63 countries surveyed.

The country fares even worse when it comes to total unemployment and is ranked bottom on the list.

The IMD said unemployment and youth unemployment presented a weakness for South Africa's global competitiveness ranking. The country was ranked No 53 in the global competitiveness rankings.

Mark Orpen, the executive chairperson at the Institute of People Development, said South Africa's young people were much more likely to have passed through the continent's formal education systems than their predecessors.

“With that comes a challenge for leaders of business and the government to provide them with the opportunities to apply their skills - and to ensure that their skills can help them thrive in the changing world of work,” said Orpen.

IMD also ranked South Africa No 61 on the human development index, No 58 when it comes to skilled labour and No 60 for higher education achievement.

South Africa's primary education system was rated 126th out of 138 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2016-17 Global Competitiveness Report, and its higher education and training system ranked 134th.

Statistics South Africa this month released unemployment data for the first quarter of 2018. It shows that youth unemployment in the country rose to 52.4percent in the first quarter, from 51.1percent in the last quarter of 2017. South Africa's youth unemployment rate is projected to be 54.75percent in the third quarter of 2018 according to a Trading Economics poll.

Peter Tshiguvho, the chief executive of Metropolitan Retail, said financial literacy was key to financial inclusion.

“Considering the current youth unemployment rates within the South African context, it is also our intent to show young people, who may not have the means to consider formal education post high school, that they have options and are able to achieve success,” Tshiguvho said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa last month launched the Youth Employment Service aimed at creating jobs for the unemployed youth. Ramaphosa has challenged businesses to create half a million jobs a year in order to address youth unemployment.

- BUSINESS REPORT