“The results suggest that in common with countries across the globe, compared with adults, youth face particular challenges in gaining employment in the South African labour market. Over the period 2008 to 2014, their level of education attainment improved but their labour market prospects deteriorated,” said StatsSA statistician general, Pali Lehohla.
“This in part reflects structural weaknesses in the labour market due to a mismatch between skills and available jobs. In this regard, it is widely recognised that rapid technological change and the demands of modern manufacturing require skills that are often in short supply.”
According to StatsSA, the unemployment rate among youth increased from 32.7 per cent to 36.1 per cent between 2008 and 2014.
While young people account for 52 to 64 per cent of the working age population, they are under-represented in employment, accounting for only 42 to 49 per cent of those that are employed.
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The unemployment rate also decreases with age, with unemployment rates highest among 15 to 19 year olds while the absorption rate is highest among those aged 25 to 29 years and 30 to 34 years.
“Young women, 15 to 34 years, are in a particularly precarious situation, with unemployment rates more than 10 percentage points higher than that of young men. This situation remained the same each year over the period. While some young people have opted to continue with their education hoping to improve their future job prospects, others have become increasingly discouraged,” Lehohla said.
“Young people aged 15 to 34 years are not a homogenous group, and their labour market situation often varies enormously when 5-year age categories are analysed. The youngest age categories tend to be more disadvantaged – especially younger women.”
Long-term unemployment is particularly acute in the Mpumalanga and Free State provinces in South Africa where the occurrence of long-term unemployment had increased the most since 2008.
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The StatsSA report indicated that many young people have not worked before and that 26.6 per cent of young people, 15 to 34 years, resided in households were no one was employed.
“Fewer have access to benefits such as medical aid and larger proportions are on contracts of a limited duration,” said Lehohla.
“And to the extent that networks are important in finding employment, youth living in households in which no one is employed are clearly at a more serious disadvantage in the labour market.”