The latest United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report on youth unemployment should not be used for “cheap” political arguments, as the 2024 national general election approached, warned Professor Sarah Mosoetsa, CEO of the Human Science Research Council (HSRC).
The UNDP in South Africa and the HSRC launched the South Africa National Human Development Report (SANHDR) 2022, under the theme, "Harnessing the Employability of South Africa's Youth.“
The report examined youth unemployment from a human development perspective, emphasised its impact on earning potential, business growth, social cohesion and public resources.
The launch shed light on youth unemployment, highlighting its consequences, and presented policy recommendations for fostering inclusive and sustainable growth in South Africa.
However, while Deputy President Paul Mashatile, who officiated the launch, agreed with the UNDP that youth unemployment was a ticking time bomb, Prof Mosoetsa warned that the report should not be used as a political weapon in canvassing for votes in the upcoming elections.
Rather, she said, the report should be used to engage with the data to find solutions to the challenges.
“The report shows the shifts, trends and opportunities for youth employment. It is not just a report that says these are the challenges full-stop,” she said.
The report did warn that without decisive policy decisions and strategic actions, continued youth unemployment threatened the social and political stability of South Africa.
The report found that in order to tackle the high and complex youth unemployment challenge in South Africa, and to take advantage of the opportunities of the future of work, the country had to extensively invest in the 21st century skills of its younger generation.
Mashatile said he hoped this report would shine a light on the blind spots in the work government was doing to fight youth unemployment.
The SANHDR proposed a comprehensive strategy consisting of five key elements to tackle youth unemployment in the country which can be read here.