Econ3x3 Brief: Youth unemployment: what can we do in the short run?

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Lauren Graham and Ariane De Lannoy

Youth unemployment in South Africa is an oft discussed issue that may seem insoluble. Despite much policy attention and a range of public and private interventions having been implemented, youth unemployment rates have remained high since the country’s transition to democracy. The situation is now considered chronic. In fact, comparisons between youth unemployment rates of the second quarter of 2008 with the second quarter of 2016 indicate that the problem has worsened over the past eight years.

We provide an overview and assessment of the current extent of the problem and discuss some of the structural features that drive youth unemployment in South Africa (for more detail, see Graham et al. 2016; De Lannoy et al. 2015). We argue that focusing solely on these structural, long-term issues may prevent us from considering important aspects that could be addressed more speedily.