HomeEducationHarambee’s labour market research provides clear insight on how best to tackle the President’s call to solve the youth unemployment crisis

Harambee’s labour market research provides clear insight on how best to tackle the President’s call to solve the youth unemployment crisis

23 February 2018 – Johannesburg –  Harambee, the Youth Employment Accelerator that helps young unemployed work-seekers find work through scientifically rigorous matching tools and work readiness programmes has released its Breaking Barriers youth employment report in collaboration with Business Unity South Africa (BUSA).

In a week when the newly elected President, Cyril Ramaphosa, put jobs for youth at the heart of South Africa’s economic recovery during his State of the Nation Address, Harambee’s report is more pertinent than ever.

The Breaking Barriers report highlights the challenges of the education system in preparing work-seekers for the job market and the need for practical, affordable solutions that don’t require tertiary degrees for jobs where they are not required.

The three most relevant insights for Q4 of 2017 are:

  1. Employment rates increase with education, but less so for young, low-income or female work-seekers.
  2. In looking for work, young people face barriers tied both to job requirements like qualifications, and to soft skills as employers increasingly look for aspects like initiative, persistence and leadership, in the people that they hire.
  3. The high premium that employers place on work experience shows gaps between formal education and work readiness. While many people learn their most valuable skills on the job, the traditional model in South Africa remains school to university to employment, therefore, there remains a need for practical training or work experience to get a job.

Tanya Cohen, CEO at BUSA comments; “Given the high correlation between education and employment, it is a national imperative to put in place sustainable interventions to improve basic education outcomes. Business recognises that it needs to put its collective weight behind rapidly expanding youth employment opportunities in order to stimulate and grow our economy for the future.”

The information for Breaking Barriers was gained from engagement with nearly 400,000 young work-seekers who are at risk of sustained, long-term unemployment. Harambee uses real-time data to calculate an employment rate amongst its candidates which shows a youth employment rate that is lower than that of Stats SA, although the trends are similar.

The report shows that the employment rate amongst Harambee youth increased slightly in the fourth quarter, but not nearly as much as the rate of increase over the same period in the previous two years. In other words, the Harambee employment rate remained in line with the Stats SA employment rate, on a declining annual average trend.

Looking forward, Harambee expects the employment rate to decline slightly again in 2018Q1.

Harambee’s Lebo Nke has said; “We applaud the President’s fundamental belief in young people being the solution – not the problem – to economic rejuvenation.” She said that Harambee has heard the President’s call for solving youth unemployment through partnerships that respond to the “great urgency” of bringing unemployed work-seekers into productive economic activity and that Harambee is ready to actively support the Jobs Summit that will be convened in the next few months.

Harambee has also committed to work with all of its partners to apply and scale up the platforms, partnerships, capability, data and work-readiness programmes to further support the imperative to create millions of jobs over the next three years.

Last October at Harambee’s ‘Solutions Exchange’, Cyril Ramaphosa said: “There is nothing wrong with young people in our country. We just need to open the pathways for them – give them wings and they will go.”

This Breaking Barriers report provides the insight for everyone to better understand how to give young South Africans the wings they need.


About Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator

Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator is a not-for-profit social enterprise that builds solutions to tackle youth unemployment. The organisation partners with businesses to match their entry-level requirements to their network of high-potential work-seekers who have been locked out of the formal economy, typically because they have no networks and come from social grant dependent households. Through scientifically rigorous matching tools and behavioural readiness programmes, Harambee reduces hiring risk and enables new job creation by focusing on churn, skills scarcity and retention, supported by change management with employers. Harambee’s model for change also builds solutions to address system-wide challenges through research, innovation and public-private partnerships.


About BUSA

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) is the principal representative of business in South Africa. It represents business on cross cutting issues relating to economic, social, trade, environment and transformation in national and international structures and bodies, and is the representative of business in Nedlac. BUSA was formed in 2003 and consists of organisational members representing unisectoral business organisations; corporate representative organisations; chambers of commerce & industry; and professional organisations. BUSA serves to be a constructive contributor to economic growth, social prosperity and transformation in South Africa.

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