Grappling with youth employability in South Africa
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In 2005, South African Labour Minister Mdladlana described youth unemployment as a 'powder keg waiting to explode unless something drastic was done to address it'. (Department of Labour, 2005) The purpose of this paper is to create a platform for discussion and debate regarding youth employability within South Africa. Specifically it considers the question of what capabilities are minimally required to enable economic participation; touching on both international and local research. The paper then considers the extent to which these capabilities are being developed in schools within the South African context, and explores the role of special programmes in bridging any identified gaps1. Finally, it locates the discussion pertaining to employability within an analysis of broader contextual issues and highlights a number of questions that require further consideration.
Obviously, there is neither one cause of youth unemployment nor one simple solution to it. Similarly the answers do not fall within the power or abilities of one sector or body, whether government, labour, civil society or the private sector. Rather, it is suggested that to address the complexities of youth employability a multi-disciplinary as well as a multi-sectoral analytical approach is necessary.
It should be noted that while a wide array of information and documentation exists on the subject, there is limited research-based data on how best to engage, efficiently, pragmatically, and strategically, in concrete actions to increase youth employability in South Africa. An overview of the methodology that was therefore employed to provide greater nuance regarding these issues is provided in Annex One.