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Frustration among South Africa’s unemployed youth has the potential to cause widespread economic disruption. In recent weeks we have already seen evidence of this.

The youth unemployment rate, measuring job-seekers between 15 and 24 years old, rose to 61% in the fourth quarter of 2022, up from an over two-year low of 59.6% in the previous period. Youth have the potential to transform the economy, civil society and politics. Swift and meaningful action is necessary to address the youth unemployment crisis to create the change that is needed.

Young people are disproportionately affected by job losses, and rising unemployment will only add to the economic and social pressures already facing them. Unemployed youth are more likely to be in poverty, experience mental health issues, and become disconnected from their communities. Furthermore, the lack of economic opportunities can lead to civil unrest.

It is essential therefore that government and policymakers address the youth unemployment crisis before it leads to further social unrest and disruption. This should include targeted interventions to provide job training and employment opportunities, as well as other measures to ensure that young people have access to the resources and support they need to succeed in the job market or entrereneurship. Only then can we ensure that our future generations can escape poverty and reach their full potential.

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