File photo: The ANC has identified the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality as threatening our stability, says the writer.

Pretoria - As the nation marks Youth Day today, and the events of June 16, 1976 when the youth took to the streets to demand better education, much, but not all has changed for the better.

Unemployment continues to haunt the youth with more than 3.5 million having no jobs.

South Africa has the third highest number of unemployed out-of-school youth in the world.

Recent studies have found an estimated 50 percent of young South Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed.

“They are the engines of any country’s economy, and while education is a crisis on its own, the resultant lack of skills and unemployability only makes things worse,” the 19th Global Risk Report said.

According to its 2014 report, South Africa placed third after Portugal and Italy on the unemployed youth scale.

The report said the generation that came of age from 2010 faced high unemployment and a precarious job situation.

“These factors hamper their efforts to build a future, and raise the risk of social unrest.”

Participants at a June 16 debate at the Johannesburg Civic Centre last year agreed education had not lived up to the ideals of June 16. The weak schooling system did not empower recipients.

“The system has not provided the necessary skills for young people to enter the job market. Those who are educated find themselves lacking the required skills sought by employers,” a report from that discussion found.

The problem was exacerbated by an economy that had not grown enough to absorb school leavers.

Some studies say long-term youth unemployment could generate frustration and low self-esteem, which could result in the use of drugs, increased disease and crime.

There has been evidence that unemployment exposes the youth to a greater risk of lower future wages, repeated periods of unemployment, longer unemployment spells as adults and income poverty.

Earlier this month Stats SA said the level of education attainment for the youth (aged 15 to 34) had improved between 2008–2014, but their labour market prospects had deteriorated.

Pretoria News