Pretoria - Fewer than 50% of all matriculants will hold a job in the formal employment sector before they celebrate their 24th birthday, the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), said in Pretoria on Monday.
HSRC chief executive Dr Olive Shisana made the statement as she released the organisation's audited financial results for the year 2009/10, which saw the organisation receive its tenth consecutive unqualified report.
She said the HSRC which was involved with an estimated 155 projects had generated the organisation's "highest income ever" at R340m.
Referring to a study carried out in conjunction with the National Prosecuting Authority, Shisana said the HSRC had recommended that there was a need for public intervention ranging from victim counselling to collaborative work among various crime agencies.
"Education is a very big priority. We know, all of us know, the quality of education is very bad in the country."
HSRC research was looking at how to improve basic education and how matriculants could gain access to further education.
Shisana said there was a high rate of attrition among students, who dropped their studies before obtaining their qualifications. Research had shown that poverty had played a big role.
A large number of school leavers joined the long queues of the unemployed.
"The key question is how to improve the employment prospects of school leavers in the labour market that are not going into higher education."
HSRC research had shown there were some three million people in the 15 to 24 age group who were not studying or working.
Shisana said race was still playing a major role among university graduates, with black graduates battling more than others in obtaining jobs.
She said that currently the department of science and technology contributed some 50% to the organisation's funding while the rest came from external sources such as research grants.