Every quarter in South Africa, Statistics South Africa releases unemployment data. For over a decade, this data has been getting worse and worse. During the same period, every president South Africa has had, Cyril Ramaphosa included, has been talking about creating jobs. Yet, more and more people are being reported to be unemployed with no solution in sight or the trend reversing.

However, worse than all of this, is the alarmingly growing number of youth that is unemployed in South Africa.

The unemployment rate in South Africa by age group.
📊 The unemployment rate in South Africa by age group.

Let me be more specific: youth aged 15-24 years and 25-34 years recorded the highest unemployment rates of 66,5% and 43,5% respectively, according to Statistics South Africa, but interestingly 44,7% of those aged 15 to 34 years old are also not in “education or training. That’s right, they are not employed as well as not being educated or trained in any skills they can use to be employed in the future.

Despite these very unsettling statistics, you will hear the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, talk about how the government is creating jobs and improving the country. In fact, just this week, the President could be heard across different media platforms talking about how the government has been steering the country through a difficult period and making good progress with economic recovery and job creation.

Unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie.

Education levels of unemployed people in South Africa.
📊 Education levels of unemployed people in South Africa.

South Africa has a serious youth unemployment problem.

Beyond being a problem, it is a ticking time bomb as young able people grow more frustrated with each passing day as they are unable to make ends meet. The data is also quite clear, a lot of the youth do not even complete high school, making them not only unemployed but unemployable.

Currently, 44,7% of youth in South Africa aged between 15 - and 34 years old are unemployed, and not in education or training. Why isn't the South African government putting all its energy into stopping this ticking time bomb?

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Thus, as much as South Africa has a youth unemployment problem, the solution is relatively available - get youth to first complete high school and then be equipped with skills they can use to earn a living.

With that in mind, you have to ask: why isn’t the South African government putting all their energy into this?

— By Tefo Mohapi

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