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South Africa: 20-Year Youth Employment Review Released

Pretoria — Statistician-General Pali Lehohla says while the number of black youth in employment has grown over the last 20 years, the acquisition of skills has not grown at the same rate within this group.

Lehohla was presenting a 20-year review on employment dynamics among the youth of the country by population group, from 1994, to date.

He said the total workforce amongst black people almost doubled from 1994 to 2014, having increased by 95%. Lehohla revealed that employment amongst black people grew from 5.6 million workers to 10.9 million.

Employment in the Indian/Asian youth population grew by 47%, 45% for coloureds and 9% for whites.

Lehohla said despite the increase in the workforce over the past 20 years, the black population recorded the lowest increase in skilled employment when compared to other population groups.

Lehohla said the proportion of skilled employment decreased amongst the age group of 24 to 34 years old black African population between 1994 and 2014.

“The lowest increase took place within the black African population by 2.9%.

“The highest increase occurred within the Indian/Asian population, which recorded 25.5%, followed by 19.3% within the white population and 10.9% within the coloured population,” said Lehohla.

Youth unemployment stands at 36.1%, with jobless youth making up 75% of the country’s unemployed.

Generally, Lehohla said the number of skilled workers in the country has increased from 1.8 million to 3.8 million between 1994 and 2014, recording a percentage growth of 108%, whilst semi-skilled workers have increased by 66% and low-skilled by 49%.

Report welcomed

The Deputy Minister in The Presidency, Buti Manamela, welcomed Lehohla’s report, saying while gains have been made in the area of job creation, it was not enough to tackle the challenge of joblessness, poverty and inequality.

“The population in South Africa increased by 42% from 38 million in 1994 to 54 million in 2014… The rate of employment creation during this period exceeded the rate of population growth,” said Deputy Minister Manamela.

He said the report showed that democracy can be seen to have begun addressing the plight, particularly of black Africans.

“The coloured population also made major gains in absolute numbers and had a proportionate share of their population by increasing by about 500 000.” He said the Indian population also grew 157 000.

The report also showed that the white population had the lowest rate of change of only 8% and grew by 162 000, which is less than the population’s proportionate share of about 9% in the population.

“Whites obviously did not have any backlogs to deal with, and it is thus not surprising that the growth in employment affected largely all those who are not white,” said the Deputy Minister.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister Manamela said figures amongst the black African youth, aged between 20 and 34 years old, told a disturbing story.

“[The report] suggests that there is a generation of black Africans who, through the period of 20 years, lost out on acquiring skills, while their white and Indian counterparts made major inroads in skills acquisition,” said the Deputy Minister.

He said amongst black Africans, skills decreased by 3%, while it grew well above 24% amongst white and Indians.

The Deputy Minister said young people who are currently in school, aged between seven and 19 years old, should be encouraged to take science and technology subjects to acquire the much needed skills in the country.


“… This should be the case, especially amongst the black population,” said Deputy Minister Manamela.

Adrian Baillie-Stewart

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