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News release

Jobs are top priority for South African youth, new Afrobarometer survey indicates

17 Aug 2023 South Africa
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News release
Key findings
  • ▪ Unemployment is the most important problem that South African youth want their government to address, cited by 54% of 18- to 35-year-old respondents as one of their top three priorities (Figure 1).
  • ▪ Youth are more educated than their elders. More than nine out of 10 young citizens (94%) have secondary or post-secondary schooling (Figure 2).
  • ▪ But young South Africans are also more likely to be unemployed: 47% of youth say they are looking for a job, compared to 35% of the middle-aged and 10% of older citizens (Figure 3).
  • ▪ Only about one in 10 young people give the government a passing grade on its efforts to create jobs (11%), reduce crime (10%), provide electricity (12%), and fight corruption (10%) (Figure 4).
  • ▪ Excluding respondents who were too young to vote at the time, only 51% of young respondents say they voted in the most recent national election, in 2019, compared to 65% of middle-aged and 77% of older citizens. Almost half (47%) of youth say they did not vote (Figure 5).
  • ▪ Young South Africans are less likely to say they attended a community meeting during the previous year (40%, vs. 50%-58% of other age groups) or joined others to raise an issue (37%, vs. 40%-55% of older citizens) (Figure 6). o They are also less likely to report having contacted a local government councillor (33%, vs. 45% of their elders) or a political party official (15%, vs. 18%-23% among older respondents) during the previous year. o In contrast, they were no less likely than their elders to participate in a demonstration or protest (16%) or to contact a traditional leader (17%) or a member of Parliament (7%).

In a list of concerns that includes crime, electricity, and corruption, unemployment is the  most important problem that young South Africans want their government to address, a  recent Afrobarometer survey shows.  

While the country’s youth are more educated than middle-aged and older citizens, they  are also more likely to be unemployed.  

Similar to their elders, youth are overwhelmingly critical of the government’s efforts on  job creation, crime, electricity, and corruption.  

Survey findings also indicate that young South Africans are not taking full advantage of  political and civic avenues to make their voices and priorities heard.