South African youth have particularly difficult lives. There are too many unemployed youth and too few jobs. To many are under-educated and under-skilled. Even those who are well educated are not guaranteed work, not in the skills areas for which they are educated and trained nor even for other areas. Generally government acknowledges an unemployment rate of about 25.2% in the first quarter of 2013, this according to Stats SA. Also acknowledged is that unemployment of the youth is in the region of 50% (double the national average). While this sort of relationship is not unique to South Africa, the overall high rates probably are.
Not acknowledged are the many unemployed who have simply given up looking for employment and thus are under the radar and are not counted. The Direct Democracy Forum (the DDF) take the pessimistic view that unemployment nation-wide is closer to double those figures and that level is the real target for employment initiatives, that we need to find gainful employment for up to 50% of our population between 15 and 65 years old and about 75% of the population between 15 and 25 years old. The high levels of unemployment amongst the youth have significant impact on crime levels, disintegration of societal and family mores and values and this has a cascading effect on the youth of tomorrow, with the disadvantaged leading the ever more disadvantaged into dysfunction, where, often, the only support system available comes from those who are already dysfunctional and whose only ‘family’ are gangs who are involved in anti-social and illegal activities. These are not good role models for the future.
Whether you take a optimistic or pessimistic view of unemployment, it is clear that SA has a massive unemployment problem that cannot simply be addressed by social welfare grants such as but not limited to the proposed youth wage subsidy. In any event the proposed wage subsidy is not universally welcome in South Africa, see Wage Subsidy Critique and there is a large body of debate which argues that the costs of wage subsidies are often wasted as they are often spent on jobs which would exist even without a subsidy and their effect on the labour market is to distort rather than improve employment patterns.