Youth more educated, least employed

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pretoria – The level of education amongst all South Africans has improved since 1994, but this has not translated into skilled jobs - especially amongst young people, Stats SA's Statistician-General Pali Lehohla said on Thursday.

Lehohla said the number of young people in skilled jobs has only increased by 0.4% between 1994 and 2014. In 1994, there were 12.7% young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years who held skilled jobs, compared to 13.1% in 2014.

For those between the ages of 24 and 34 years, 21.2% held skilled jobs in 1994, compared to 21.9% in 2014.

Lehohla said this when releasing a report on “The National and Provincial Labour Market, Youth, Q1: 2008-Q1: 2014", which examines various aspects of the situation faced by youth aged 15–34 years in the South African labour market.

This, Lehohla said, was a bleak story for young people, given that there had been an increase in adults aged 55 to 64 employed in skilled jobs since 1994 (14.5%).

“Young people are disproportionately represented in the market of the employed.

“Despite the demographic transition, the demographic dividend has not occurred,” Lehohla said.

He said in both 1994 and 2014, low-skilled occupations dominated the employment opportunities that were available to all, especially the youth.

Lehohla’s announcement on labour market trends amongst young people come as South Africa commemorates Youth Month.

He said when it comes to employment, young people between the ages of 15 and 34 remained vulnerable compared to their older counterparts between the ages of 35 and 64 years.

The current unemployment rate stands at 25.2%, compared to 23.2% during the recession in 2008.

When a magnifying glass is put on this figure, the unemployment rate amongst young people has increased from 32.7% in 2008 to 36.1% in 2014.

The unemployment rate amongst adults, however, has gone from 13.4% in 2008 to 15.6% in 2014.

This means that the unemployment rate for youth post the recession period has been more than 20% compared to adults every year.

“The youth have to see to it to ensure that the number is reduced. Getting a better education helps one get a job and when you don’t have matric, you might not get a job,” he said.

He also said that policies – for both education and jobs – should be government’s main priority for this picture to change, and there was evidence that interventions such as the youth wage subsidy gave young people experience and that increased their chances to get full-time employment.

Black and coloured youth worse off

When analysing data based on race and gender, Lehohla said data showed that young people in the African and coloured groups were mostly affected by unemployment.

“In 2014, the rate among African youth is more than three times that of white youth.

“Amongst Indians and white youth, that demographic dividend has occurred. They are reaping the benefits of investing in education.

“By sex, you see females at the thin end of this situation.

“Females have a higher burden of unemployment than males. This analysis by sex tells us deficits are more likely to occur amongst females and female headed houses,” he said.

Lehohla said the unemployment rate among black youth was 36.4% in 2014, followed by coloured youth (35.3%), Indian/Asian youth (15.7%) and white youth (9.6%). –

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