Youth unemployment – our deepest sytemic threat

If you thought the interminable debates about

  • the laws and institutions that structure our labour market and
  • government subsidies for first time youth workers

were just silly ideological wrangling then take a look at this graph from the OECD economic survey of South Africa. Let the extraordinary relative numbers speak for themselves.

1. Persons aged 15-24 years, 2007 data for Brazil. Source: OECD, Labour Force Statistics Database; ILO, Laborstat Database; and Statistics South Africa, Quarterly Labour Force Survey.

Youth unemployment seems to me predictive of so many societal and personal ills – the high increase of interpersonal crime, especially rape; generally increased mortality figures – especially as a result of HIV infection and non-compliance with treatment regimes and homicide; social unrest, that in our case easily turns into service delivery protests and xenophobic violence; the rise to prominence of politicians in the mould of Julius Malema … I am sure we could all thumb suck a list that could go on and on and on.

The point, confirmed by the OECD study – the executive summary is here and the main findings and recommendations are here – is that GDP and employment growth must be lifted and obstacles placed in the way of our doing this by the vested interests of the trade union movement and the crony capitalists must just be shoved aside.

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