South Africa has the one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world. Since 2013, youth unemployment (excluding youth that have stopped actively looking for work) has averaged 51 percent.  Unfortunately, in 2016, South Africa’s youth unemployment rate increased to a record high of 55 percent.

Unemployed youth in South Africa often….

…have low levels of education

…have dropped out of school

…have decreased literacy, numeracy, and communication skills

…have little work experience

…lack strong networks or social capital

…lack the finances neeeded to travel to high demand labor areas

…have unrealistically high wage expectations

It is harder for someone without a university degree to obtain a job in South Africa. However, South African youth are dropping out of school at alarming rates in grade 10 and grade 11.  In 2013, 50 percent of the matric (graduating) class of 2013 that started in grade one dropped out of school before matric (the 12th grade). 


  • “The State of Youth Unemployment in South Africa,” Morné Oosthuizen and Aalia Cassim, August 15, 2014, retrieved from
  • South Africa Youth Unemployment Rate 2013-2016, retrieved from
  • "Coping with Unemployment,"Centre for Development and Enterprise, November 2012