Future Prospects for South African Youths

SA’s youth a time bomb:  Here are some interesting statistics regarding the youth, their numbers and their unemployment which may interest some readers. The article is not really about race – it’s actually about numbers of the youth – but thanks to Stats SA who do still base their reports on race this is the way it comes out.

I have extracted and condensed the figures to highlight the youth – the future of the country, the figures being courtesy of Statistics SA, 2014:

Age Group
Black – 4,936,601
Coloured – 420,171,
Asian – 99,256,
White – 263,301;

Age 5-9,
Black – 4,541,523,
Coloured – 428,867,
Asian – 96,953,
White – 269,367;

Age 10-14,
Black – 4,303,892,
Coloured – 444,983,
Asian – 93,863,
White – 280,988;

Age 15-19,
Black – 4,357,984,
Coloured – 451,117,
Asian – 101,609,
White – 306,851;

Age 20-24,
Black – 4,417,106,
Coloured – 427,547,
Asian – 109,668,
White – 312,797.

Blacks – 22,557,106,
Coloureds – 2,172,685,
Asian – 501,349,
White – 1,433,304.

Blacks – 84,6%,
Coloureds – 8,2%,
Asian – 1,8%,
White – 5,4%.

Comparatively the ratios for the entire population are
80% Black,
9% Coloured,
2,5% Asian and
8,5% White

Total population being 54m. If one had to plot the birth rate of the youth, dating back to 1990, from the above table, one would note the following: The figures for White, Coloured and Asian youth have remained fairly static since 1990, whilst those for the Blacks have increased steadily since 2005 to a point where they now account for almost 85% of their age group. Since 1990 the numbers of Black youth – aged 0-24 – have increased by 11% whilst those of the Coloureds, Asians and Whites have decreased by 1%, 9% and 15% respectively. Simply put, the Black birth rate is increasing fast – steadily – that of Coloureds is decreasing slowly, that of Asians decreased between 1990 and 2005 but is now increasing slightly again and the White birth rate is declining rapidly – and steadily – and has been doing so since 1990.

We can thus estimate that by 2030 – based on current growth – for the age group 0-24 there will be 91 Blacks, 7 Coloureds, 1 Asian and 1 White in every group of 100 youngsters. Those who thus keep harping on about driving the Whites into the sea should not bother anymore as we’re disappearing fast anyway and by 2030 are liable to account for less than 2% of the total population. The bad news of course is that starvation, unemployment and misery are likely to still be present, but they’ll apply generally only to Blacks – their being over 90% of the population by that stage – and generally to young Blacks. At present there are in fact 4,9 million Black youngsters aged 0-4 whereas the total white population is 4,5 million.

Consider also that there are another 4,5 million Black youngsters aged 5-9, another 4,3 million aged 10-14 and another 4,3 million aged 15-19 – hopefully all at school – and you begin to see the enormity of the challenge facing the country and the government in attempting to feed, house, educate and otherwise sustain such numbers. Regarding unemployment amongst the youth – calculated at 48% across the board by Stats SA – it would seem that of a total population for this group of 10,4 million, 5 million are thus unemployed, and even more disturbing is that at least 4,2 million of these are Black. Considering that the entire White population is about 4,5 million this is a figure that should worry all with regard to education, crime, service delivery, government expenditure, job creation and socio-economic woes.

The above all give us pointers to where the country is going and most importantly what problems can be foreseen. The youth – aged 15-24 – currently account for 20% of the total population, some 10 million of them, whilst the young – aged 0-14 – form 30% of the population and number some 16 million. Add these two groups together – 50% of the entire population and 26 million in number – and you see the size of the problem facing us unless jobs are created, fast, or the Black birth rate is slowed. Quite noticeably, AIDS hasn’t had the effect it was claimed it would have and as a result the young Black population is exploding way beyond what the country can cope with, now or in the future. Unfortunately it would seem that the government, AKA the ANC, are either unaware or uncaring of this growing problem when they should be seriously worried for grants, subsidies, education, housing, services – all things relating to this age group in fact – are going to eat an increasingly larger portion of their budget, regardless of what they do now.

The South African economy needs to grow fast, starting now, if it is going to absorb another 26 million job seekers over the next 15 years. We can’t export them, we have to create jobs for them! For this reason alone the government should be actively creating an environment wherein jobs can be easily created, they should be attempting to slow the Black birth rate and they should be concentrating on creating capitalistic solutions for hungry mouths, rather than attempting to instil socialistic ideas in an exploding population of young hopefuls. If they are not doing so, and to all intents and purposes it seems they are not, then SA is heading for a huge problem, notwithstanding Eskom and the rest , in that there will be more young people than there will be enough food, drink, housing, education and services to cater for them. Socialism is definitely not going to feed that many mouths and grants and subsidies will eventually cripple any future government.



Also Read: – South Africa a fast becoming welfare state… see links below




29 responses to “Future Prospects for South African Youths

  1. This makes an interesting reed. Very Interesting.

  2. Dallas van der Westhuyzen

    is anything being done to solve this imense problem?
    Because of a very short sighted, stupid, racialistic hatred, the black people and government are not seeing the forest for the trees. SA is on a self destructive mission of note and the sad thing is that they seem totally oblivious. It is time to put away this self destructive madness and hatred and reincorporate the white people into the system to help sort out the problem – or is it already too late?

  3. Roland Deale

    Add Xenphobia and anti Capitalism sentiment to the list of issues that are crippling growth potential and any chance of attracting foreign investment as well. As long as the Breed & Greed mentality is encouraged by our ruling party/ government, the future is bleak. “I demand” is not written into the Constitution as a right. “I aspire” is insinuated by inference and means taking responsibility for ones actions and nurturing those who are willing to work within and share a Democratic society. Appreciation of differing cultures and good role models in a peaceful “honestly” non racial society is our biggest challenge.

    • Richard Nieckau

      Capitalism – is not a word generally used in economics to describe a Free Market Economy, yet the word is often confused with Socialism. (Which may be caused by the turbulent socio-political conditions in South Africa)

  4. Is it wise for my daughter to rather find work abroad? She is an artdirector, but unfortunanately she is white, so she is just working in another field (her salary is currently less than a teagirls’ in the corporate world, she has said a date for September if things don’t change work wise, she is 32 and single. Her elder sister & hubby are in the UK

  5. Clem I remember your presentation in the late 80’s about the high road and the low road. Would you believe that’s almost forty years ago. Which of these two roads do you think we have navigated so far? I have always enjoyed your interesting and thought provoking articles and presentations. Thank you.

  6. Clint Mackenzie

    It is insightful to see these numbers. Government legislation in the form of social grants is sending a clear message to the youth and we can only expect the situation to worsen. I pray for new leadership in government or for the existing leaders to find an equitable solution that will give our children a chance in the future SA.

  7. Rosemary Joubert

    I Pray that the Powers that be (the Government and Mr Zuma) are advised of this article I wonder what they would make of it ! Unfortunately dont know if they would understand it Why are Children in our beautiful Country encouraged to have babies by giving them a grant? They should be concentrating on their education and their future Are they taught that nothing is free in this world no matter where you live or wh you are We all have to work for what you want Also need to be taught that there is responsibility and accountability

  8. doug metcalf

    Family with many mouths to feed….poverty. Family with two or three children…more food for each person and some money for education. Education…better job prospects and more money.
    Social welfare at present encourages birth rate as poor people have no money.
    Possible solution..as from next budget
    Mother must be older than 18 for qualification for child grant (lets get the ladies educated !) 1st child R500, 2nd additional R500. If a 3rd baby is born grant is reduced by R200.
    If Asia can reduce their birth rate, so can Africa.
    One day the mines will be finished so we need an educated population to take the country forward.
    If everyone works for the Government say at R12 500 per month and the person pays tax of say R2500. Where will the Government get money from to pay the next months salary ? The Government needs private enterprise to create jobs and pay the taxes for Government salaries and the Government cannot get too big, else it will use up too much tax just for salaries.

  9. Clem, AIDS has had a huge impact, it is just the influx of foreigners which have kept the numbers up. Go to Empangeni if you doubt my words?

  10. Ron L Winger

    Most likely, and based on any number of rather clear signs ever since 1994, the solution the ANC will adopt for South Africa will neither be “capitalistic”, nor “socialistic”. Instead, it will be the Chinese type autocratic one. One of the ongoing clear signs for that ANC thinking is precisely the obvious total lack of concern about the growing problem the unemployed and unemployable black youth is presenting in South Africa, a problem which the ANC simply sees as not being any problem at all …
    Well, given such a state of affairs, the only problem, and one which for now the ANC simply cannot afford emotionally to consider, is that China itself will by 2030, if not even earlier, have developed into an immense “bubble”, or have already exploded as such one …
    And then, at such time, the ANC will, of course, turn to a somewhat modernized version of , say, Congo, Zimbabwe, etc., …
    Except that, in between, many enough of the millions of South African black youth may be seduced by Islamic extremism, a movement immensely more tempting for them, than the utterly corrupt and parasitic EFF of Malema …
    So then, we may end up, just like Nigeria, in a never ending awful civil war …
    Meanwhile, try and have a nice day …

  11. John Huddleston

    So, after all this are we all just going to give up? Remember we re a miracle nation! In 1994 we predicted doom gloom and civil war as in Bosnia & Rwanda & it never happened! We either need to have hope or leave! I see the suffering & inequality when flying over the townships each day, we as whites got free books and SA was built on “slavery” for 40-80 years as in the USA. Let’s apply solutions instead. I believe we all need to go to the townships to see the suffering & one of us could help 10 kids & God will do the rest! There s no way other than having faith that God can do another miracle in our Miracle Nation!

  12. A huge problem is that there are not enough schools for this growing population. Us parents have to queue from the night before admissions day, in hope of getting a place for our children. This is a fast growing, serious issue and Government is not building anymore schools. Alot of parents also can no longer afford private schools which places more demand on Government schools (former Model C are basically been run by parents financial contributions now which is the only reason they are still of great quality) Has the ANC had foresight for this growing problem? NO. This bubble is going to burst when their solution will be to force the schools to overcrowd classes. The current attitude of the leaders of this country is , to take what they can now, not plan for the future and expect to be entitled to everything without any forethought into the consequences. Unfortunately the youth are following blindly behind demanding their entitlements, into what seems a black hole eventually. The fact that only 3 million people contribute towards income tax is also worrying. It’s time for a strong African leader to step forward and help South Africa’s future.

  13. David du Plooy

    Dear Clem,
    I have a plan.
    I have been to your senario talks way back and was inspired. Current events on the youth “time bomb”have prompted me to prepare a voluminous book on ideas to earn money starting up a small business (at 1$/day, the universal subsistence wage) and growing from there. Note… Not careers or small business opportunities for graduates, but the target market includes all people without income who need to earn money and includes, the youth, single Moms, the elderly, people with disabilities (2,1m under aged 10 and counting), people in detention (2 million as we speak) and part time employed. In aggregate, how’s that for a stat needing aid? I call us The A Team!
    I have covered most interests, eg, Crafts, the Arts, building things, From the Kitchen, Animal Welfare, clothing/sewing etc, Social Services, Growing Things….and cover the pitfalls and opportunities, how to promote, markets, handling money, receipts, and so on.
    The book is written simply with thousands of illustrations (comic format) and is intended to be translated and go digital, reaching the rural population too (35% of the population).
    Where do I go from here? I would appreciate suggestions anyone!
    It’s taken 3 years so far and I know it can make a big difference to our underprivaliged majorities.
    Kind regards,
    PS I’m a semi retired urban planner with time on my hands…..


    • rosemary snead

      Dear David,
      Admirable someone wanting to do something about the status quo.
      There is only one solution i.e. Entrepreneur and I am not talking expense it is making something with ones hands – I am a Entrepreneur with two registered patents but there are smaller things that I do which are essential MENTOR talented youngsters, I recycle glass bottles and decorate the lids, useful wire work, vegetable gardening on a small scale, (give a man a fishing rod) One has only to look at Carolyn Steyn – we need hundreds of these amazing women black white coloured and indian to make these challenges. I salute her!

  14. Much as I’d like to agree, I must point out that it’s not a socialism versus capitalism problem but a problem of lack of proper education. Jobs are not things that can be created. Jobs come to those who can do them. So you need to have people who can do the job for the job to come. Nobody invests in a country to provide jobs to local people. They invest where local people can do their work at a cost that improves their margins. Investors invest for their own benefit not for yours. You benefit only if you show them how they can benefit. Not how hungry or poor you are.

    India is a classic example. IT and ITES jobs came to India because we had a huge population of engineers who spoke English, with the right work ethic capable of doing those jobs.

    GE, IBM, Microsoft and others didn’t come to India because they felt sorry for the starving millions. They came because they could get their work done to their standards at a fraction of what it costs in Europe and America.

    South Africa lacks on all the above criteria. South African youth lack the skills and more importantly the attitude to work for a living. They have an entitlement expectation which has no relationship to what they’re willing to do for it. The real world is a hard place where you have to do something to get something. Until they learn that lesson no government can help them.

    So I don’t agree with Clem Sunter when he says, “For this reason alone the government should be actively creating an environment wherein jobs can be easily created, they should be attempting to slow the Black birth rate and they should be concentrating on creating capitalistic solutions for hungry mouths, rather than attempting to instil socialistic ideas in an exploding population of young hopefuls.”

    Government can’t create jobs for people who don’t know how to do them. If I get Microsoft to set up a development center in Johannesburg you don’t have the IT engineers to work in it. That’s the reality whether anyone likes it or not.

    What the government and even more civil society needs to do is to focus on education and treat that as an investment area which will give returns in a few years. Then train young people in skills and even more change their attitude. That’s a big one. Any skill can be taught. But attitude is a bitch. You get someone with the wrong attitude and you can’t teach him anything.

    Sorry to hurt your feelings but the attitude of South African youth stink. They seem to live in the belief that the world owes them a living because their parents lived under apartheid.

    Well let me assure you that the world disagrees. Nobody but nobody owes anyone anything. You don’t get a cent more than your investment. South African youth must learn to invest in themselves if they want to have a good future.

    Otherwise those who still believe in the future of South Africa will give up and leave or die in the violence that will undoubtedly happen and South Africa will be yet another statistic in they list of failed African states.

    The current ethic and xenophobic violence is a clear symptom of this entitlement attitude of black South African youth.

    So it’s not about capitalism or socialism. It’s about getting real and facing the facts of life and investing in education to create a workforce that will attract jobs. It’s not an ANC or DA or political problem. It’s the problem for the whole nation. The sooner you realise it the better because the window is fast closing.

    Yawar Baig

  15. We forget here too that with the child grant system which favours societal handouts over job creation there is an increasing number of young mothers having children merely in order to access more handouts! Many of these mothers are alcohol/drug dependents and it is factual that intellectually-compromised children are being in great number! These people will be largely unemployable and will increasingly need to be sustained by an ever-shrinking fiscus…indeed, a time bomb waiting to explode!

  16. Judith Wintle

    Very interesting I would like to know when they start adding in the cost
    factor of medical care for the HIV / TB infected population – guaranteed it
    cost more than food and education so we are on a hiding to nothing. Of our
    staff approx. – 60 % infected with either disease

  17. Hello, I’m Antonio, I’m 14, and in my free time, I make video games. I study Lua from home, and earn about 3000 Rand a weekend. All it took was a bit if dedication, and effort, aswell as time. I’ve already got a future at several university’s, and I’m highly qaulified for programming. It scares me looking at these statistics, and wondering what I’m going to do when I’m older. Were not racist, but my mother’s biggest fear is bieng raped by a black man, and ill do anything to protect her. If things go down, we’ve decided well tranfer to america.

  18. When more than 72,000 school going girls have children in Limpopo during 2014 alone, then the answer must be: you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you breed

  19. Margaret Ferguson

    Actually, Clem Sunter is correct if you look at the bigger picture when he says that finding ways of growing a capitalist function is the only way of addressing the ticking time bomb of youth. You have to think about what you mean by ‘capitalism. Yawar seems to be suggesting that the jobs will come through education and meeting the needs of the macro economy. that is only part of the story. The real fundamental need is to develop the micro economy and develop communities – that means modifying South Africa’s ambitions at this time . We all need to prioritise the development of communities including government and the current macro economy can help by wisely and supportively investing in the micro economy in communities. The fact is that the outside world will not invest in South Africa until it sees S Africa investing in itself. The macro economy is more likely to grow through inward investment when the current ‘haves’ here in the nation invest in the ‘have nots’. That is South africainvesting in itself. Yes, the entitlement mentality is a problem but it will get worse if we do nothing about the situation. It is not hopeless but the development of community in the holistic sense for greater accountability with initially modest expectations will develop this nation of great potential. It is ‘bottom up’ that is needed; ‘top down’ will not cut it.

  20. So many of the above responses prove that there is know-how out there to help address the issues, but the country is in a catch 22 – scenario and need a “roadmap” on the relevance and priorities of solution application. I have worked in a major corporation with hundreds of thousands of employees and one of the most important lessons was (and which took me some time to really accept) was that the CEO was the MOST IMPORTANT determinant in the future of the company. If SA does not rid itself of its current leadership, it will go NOWHERE. Take NOTE of the arguments by Yawar Baig !!!

  21. Very thought provoking article and indeed worrying ! Its a pity there were no stats shown of the older age groups eg 50 to 70 to see any increase / decrease as these groups are often marooned financially . I also believe success or failure starts at the top and the current individual should be tasked to respond with an action plan to address the situation and consequence of theprojections raised in this article !
    Response would be very interesting .

  22. The unfortunate reality is that there will never be enough jobs in SA. to cater for the masses of youths that will be seeking employment in the future. Our problem here is that we have no leaders with vision.All we have is a bunch of opportunists who are interested only in feathering their own nests. If the rocketing population growth is not curbed then I fear the country is doomed.

  23. Never mind providing jobs etc., nothing will improve or change the status quo because we are failing miserably to educate our youth. http://www.greggfoto.com/zastories

  24. Facing up to reality is always difficult.
    The human mind defaults into denial when faced with shocking truths.
    Survival has always depended on the individual’s capacity for introspection and ‘mental arithmetic’.
    The History of mankind records so many examples of the above truth that one experiences a degree of incredulity at the perceived procrastination of the denial group. Surely, this group is not so dumb as to believe that there is any outcome other than tragedy awaiting them in South Africa.
    No amount of liberal ‘sucking up’ to the black man will save the white or Asian from the inevitable ‘Zimbabwean Scenario’.
    Education is not an option because it is not going to happen in an effective timeframe and certainly not in any useful or unbiased way.
    I was born during the final years of WW II and recall the aftermath of the Holocaust. I also knew many who had the wisdom to escape it while there was still time and facility to do so.If I lived in SA now, I would plan an exit for me and my willing dependents as a priority. Where there is a ill there is a way. Even if it does involve learning to sail and getting a seaworthy boat. Asylum is an option.

  25. This has always been an issue in Africa since independence throughout, but our Government is never going to be able to handle this problem without input from other nations who have been in this situation and have come up with plans to curb growth of the poor and of course, the main crux of the matter is PROPER EDUCATION. The Government needs to take little steps to implement proper structures, not make wild promises which NEVER come to fruition, and to be completely accountable to countries that lend them money purely for the betterment of our country , and also accountable to the South African public. This is about the South African people and NOT about the Government. I just wish they realise who voted them in and who pays their salaries, and really believed that their responsibility is purely to South Africa and the South African people.

  26. The dye has been cast ……