The country faces a major challenge with regard to unemployment specifi cally amongst those aged 18–25.
South Africa is not alone, our partners in BRICS such as Brazil are also facing an elevated youth unemployment rate
and the G20 Summit in 2017 discussed ways to address this growing socio-economic challenge.
A recent report by the World Bank entitled Fair Progress? Economic Mobility across Generations Around the World indicated that globally,
upward economic mobility has stalled for the past 30 years. The reasons behind this situation are complex, according to the report.
It tracks economic mobility between parents and their children by focusing on education.
With South Africa’s budget now dominated by spending on education and a recent decision to introduce free education at tertiary level for the poor, this is critical to assess in a local environment.
Closing gender gaps There are some positive signs for the youth around the world.
In South Africa gender gaps are closing with girls beginning to out-perform boys in tertiary education and catching up generally.
The World Bank report indicates that in some parts of the world, the share of girls with more education than their parents will exceed the equivalent share for boys in the next few years.
However, apartheid’s legacy and the attempts to deal with this means that the ability to move up the economic ladder is a vital and core contributor to reduce poverty and inequality.
Being able to do this irrespective of the socio-economic background of one’s parents is part of the education drive and this is where South African youth may need to reconfi gure their expectations.
An education policy that is dominated by technical training is regarded as part of the innovation drive internationally and the World Bank has warned that in South Africa, there is a problem.
World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva believes it is about parental aspirations as much as those of the growing child.
“We need to invest in children from a very early age so that they are well nourished and well educated; ensure that local communities are a safe place for children to grow, learn, and thrive; and level the economic playing field
by creating good jobs and improving access to fi nance,” said Georgieva in a forward published by the bank.
While this report analysed data from 75 countries, it’s the fi ndings regarding South Africa that are illuminating.
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