This is according to Siyakha Youth Assets Study released this week by the Centre for Social Development in Africa, University of Johannesburg.
The study, which looks at youth unemployment, heaped praise on young people, saying they are goal- oriented, have the drive and ambition but their progress is hampered by poor education and labour market barriers.
The study found that young people needed to use the opportunities available to them, their resources and networks to get hired because “on their own, they were unlikely to overcome these formidable barriers”.
The study also found that young people who participated in youth employment programmes were 9% more likely to get jobs.
It showed that only 27% of those who received training were able to find work and had a 9% advantage over those who had not gone through any employment programmes.
“Despite young people today having more years of education than their parents, they are not yet reaping the rewards in terms of access to the labour market,” it read.
The study followed young people who went through the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, Lovelife Groundbreakers, Fit For Life Fit For Work, Thabiso Skills Institute, Raymond Ackerman Academy, National Youth Development Agency, YouthBuild Programme, Afrika Tikkun Training Services and EOH learnership programmes.
There is a disconnect, the study revealed, between the education system and the labour market as a result of the skills deficit that young people have when they leave the schooling system.
Its findings further suggested that the youth unemployment challenge is, in part, driven by the fact that young people exiting the schooling system do not have the skills to compete for jobs where there is demand.
“Rather, they enter the back of the labour market queue, joining thousands of workers with low levels of skills, most of whom have more work experience than they do.”
Economist Dawie Roodt agreed with the report, saying youth unemployment was directly related to South Africa’s poor education system.
He said the low economic and employment growth were cited as some of the reasons for the unusually high rate of unemployment among young people.
“The quality of education is really bad in South Africa and it is not because of money. We are one of the countries that pump the most amount of money into education, yet we score low on the education level on a world scale,” he said.
Analysts have described the joblessness crisis among the youth as a ticking time bomb.
Figures from Statistics SA showed that more young people are out of work. Stats SA found that youth aged 15-24 were the most vulnerable in the South African labour market as the unemployment rate among this age group was 55.2% in the first quarter of this year.
Among graduates in this age group, the unemployment rate was 31.0%.
Roodt explained that in any economy, “the most important” resource is its people.
He said that if the unemployment rate is high, it meant the country was wasting its resources.
“South African youth are not properly skilled. There will be no jobs if the economy is not growing but to grow the economy, politics and policies need to change,” Roodt said.
The study also highlighted ongoing inequalities in accessing the labour market due to gender inequality, geographic location, time and costs of travel due to distances between home and work.
The study also found that inadequate access to quality primary, secondary and further education, have contributed to young people being ill-prepared to create and take up jobs in a labour market that increasingly demands high levels of skills.
“Shifts in youth unemployment will, therefore, require significant changes in both the education system and the labour market itself coupled with economic growth strategies that prioritise jobs,” the study resolved.