Visit the South African National Department of Health’s online resource and news portal for more information regarding COVID-19: www.sacoronavirus.co.za

3 economic challenges unique to South African youth

While the youth can contribute to positive strides in the South African economy, the reality is that they have challenges preventing them from doing so. These are future entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers, and more who can all contribute to creating more opportunities for South Africans, improving economic activity and ensuring that South Africa can trade with other countries. 

However, as much as they are the future, there are economic challenges facing the youth that can hinder any possible developments for the country. 

To find out more about the challenges facing the youth in the 21st century and how we can work together in mitigating them, read the article below. 

High unemployment rates

The youth unemployment rate in South Africa, which is currently over 50% is still one of the key challenges that affect South African youth. South Africa to date has the highest youth unemployment rate, and this is largely caused by the legacy of apartheid and poor education. This is especially true for those racially discriminated against, as they weren't equipped with the necessary skills for employment, contributing to the employment rate today. The global recession in 2008 also contributed to the high unemployment rate in South Africa. 

Now, the youth is entering an already strained job market with declining employment opportunities. With the education standards dropping, they aren’t equipped with the necessary skills to adapt to the labour market, especially with the 4th industrial revolution. 

Lack of technology

While the world continues to move into the 4th industrial revolution and many businesses adopting a digital approach, many of the youth, especially those in rural and underdeveloped areas, struggle as they don't have access to technology and connectivity. There is a large digital divide between the wealthy and poor in South Africa, and it continues to affect the youth and any chance for them to change their lives and be able to find or create work in the market. According to this article on IOL, growth in the entrepreneurial sector is key to assisting with South Africa's unemployment dilemma, more so for the youth. However, because of the barriers they face, such as lack of digital literacy and access to the internet, it becomes difficult for a growing entrepreneurial sector to become a reality. 

Education inequality

Because we live in a digital and knowledge-based society, having an education is fundamental. However, because of the education inequality, the youth find themselves at a disadvantage. This is more so for those who come from low-income families or disadvantaged areas. They don’t have access to quality education that can empower them with the basic skills to become more equipped and productive in society. This is one of the key issues and social problems faced by the youth in South African society. Reforming education and ensuring that all young people, regardless of their background, can afford a good education is a step in the right direction to eradicating some of the economic challenges unique to South African youth. 

What is DBSA’s role?

At the DBSA, we try to tackle all these challenges affecting the youth through our focus areas. We aim to seek funding for projects and transactions in the education sector. Apart from other aspects, we focus on funding opportunities for the public and private sector to assist in financing the construction of primary and tertiary institutions. As well as working in the ICT sector to help stimulate job creation, living communities out of poverty and reducing inequality within South Africa. This is achieved by driving digitalisation in South Africa. To ensure this becomes a reality, we need continuous investment opportunities from the private and public sector.  

Final thoughts

We need to work together to help mitigate the challenges faced by the youth. Moreover, there must be adequate youth empowerment programs and infrastructure investments in South Africa to help right the wrongs of the past and also ensure that the youth of today is equipped with the necessary skills. Our efforts will have a domino effect and ensure even future generations have a chance to succeed and accelerate economic growth.