According to Stats SA, at the end of the second quarter almost three out of 10 South Africans of working age actively looking for employment were not able to secure jobs. This is the highest level of unemployment recorded since the quarterly labour force survey started in 2008. If we include those who have become discouraged and given up searching for jobs, almost four in 10 remain jobless.

SA’s unemployment reality is a crisis, a ticking time bomb that could derail the country from being a truly inclusive democratic state. Let me elaborate. The 29% narrowly defined unemployment rate for the country masks the glaring crisis among the youth. The rate in the 15-24 age group is a whopping 56.4%, while among those of 25-34 it is 36%. These are people in the prime of their lives, those who are supposed to deliver the so-called demographic dividend countries such as Japan and most of Europe wish they had.

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