Almost 40% of SA’s 20-million young people are what are called Neets — not in employment, education or training. They are, in effect, doing nothing and going nowhere. Unless we rethink how we create employment, educational and training opportunities for them, SA will remain a country of young people, but not a country for young people. Rethinking the terms of the social contract SA has with its young people must start with a recognition of just how badly current policy has failed. The key marker of this is the fact that there are fewer young people in employment today than there were in 2008, and there are more young people entering the job market every year than there are entry-level jobs. There can be no more damning indictment than this of the government’s pursuit of a high-wage, high-skills developmental trajectory. The proposed implementation of a national minimum wage is bound to make matters worse. Confronted by these facts, SA’s political, economic and civic leaders tend to ...

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