South Africa National Human Development Report 2022

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South Africa National Human Development Report 2022

July 25, 2023

To raise awareness on human development approaches around the world, UNDP has been producing annual Global Human Development Reports (GHDRs) since 1990. These reports focus on international debate on key development issues, providing new measurement tools, innovative analysis, and policy proposals. In addition to the annual GHDRs, UNDP has supported countries to analyse and address country-specific development challenges through National Human Development Reports (NHDRs).  To date, more than 650 such publications have been prepared.  

The theme of the South Africa National Human Development Report (SANHDR) 2022, the fourth produced for the country, is Harnessing the Employability of South Africa’s Youth. It looks at youth unemployment in South Africa through a human development lens. The report highlights that youth unemployment in South Africa is not merely a problem but also a challenge as it limits the earning potential of youth, stymies business growth, threatens social cohesion and puts pressure on public resources. There is no doubt that the high unemployment rate is a ticking time bomb.  Accordingly, in addressing youth unemployment, the country will simultaneously be addressing poverty and income inequality. Addressing and tackling youth joblessness is not only sound economics but also a development imperative.

The report, in a nutshell, lays bare the various scenarios that currently describe the worrisome trend of increasing youth unemployment in South Africa, currently estimated at 61.0% and 39.9%  for youth aged 14-24 years and 25-34 years, respectively, according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for Q4: 2022. In the meantime, the overall national unemployment rate, as the report observes, stands at 32.7%, but even then, it conceals the great variations between the provinces, often ranging from 22.5% in the Western Cape province to 42.4% in the Eastern Cape.

To address South Africa’s youth unemployment challenge, the SANHDR  2022 provides a five-pronged strategy: 1) A strategic approach to youth transition pathways to sustainable livelihoods; 2) Creating and seizing job opportunities and the demographic dividend; 3) Capturing the opportunities in the new world of work; 4) Revitalizing the National Youth Service Schemes; and 5) Creating alliances of different actors.  This strategy can be operationalized by ensuring that, among other important efforts, South Africa’s youth can take advantage of new service work, undertake creative careers and care work, pursue social enterprises, and access philanthropic funding, all towards positioning the country to take full beneficial advantage of the 4th industrial revolution.