Youth should be a priority: Oliphant

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Recent global economic protests underline why youth employment should be a primary development goal, Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant says.

“We forewarn that recovery cannot be sufficient until there is employment recovery,” she said in notes prepared for delivery in Johannesburg. “Financial and social stability must come together… otherwise not only the global economy, but also social cohesion will be at risk.”

The South African Press Association reports Oliphant was talking at the 12th International Labour Organisation Africa’s regional conference. She said most of South Africa’s unemployed were between the ages of 15 and 34. “Supporting this position, our own National Planning Commission diagnostic report argues that if a young person does not get a job by the age 24, they are unlikely to get a job,” she said. “Even though a recovery seems underway, it remains uneven and fragile and not likely to absorb the multitudes of the unemployed in the short term.”

She said 400-million new jobs were needed between now and 2020 in order to absorb newcomers to the global job market. “This renders vulnerable populations, and particularly young men and women, highly exposed to social inequalities and poverty.”