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02 June 2005

Factsheet 1 : The youth labour market

Press Release

The youth labour market is probably the most important phase in any young person?s development, particularly the transition from school to work or further/higher education and training. It comprises several important institutions including institutions of further and higher learning, pre-employment training, and those institutions that provide employment advice and career counselling.

The South African youth labour market, however, is characterised by severe problems, most fundamentally, its inability to facilitate the progression of young people from school to other learning or employment activities. Figure 1 captures the fact that only an estimated 37% of all school-leavers succeed in securing jobs, and this figure drops to 29% per year for African first-time work-seekers.

The fundamental contradiction here is that, as the school system has grown over the past decade, so the number of formal sector jobs available to school-leavers has shrunk.

Resolving this disjuncture will require action across several interdependent domains: new employment policies, economic sector growth strategies, public works schemes, child welfare policy, educational quality assurance strategies, improved achievements in Grade 12 examinations, student financial aid schemes, and enhanced technical and vocational education policies.

This requires “joined-up” policy and implementation far in excess of what has already been achieved by government. Single government department initiatives without complementary cross-sectoral action will have significantly less impact.

Figure 1: Average annual through-flow of school-leavers entering the youth labour market for the first time, 2000-2002

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