Cape Town - The impact of the recession on youth unemployment is a "ticking time bomb", Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana said on Friday.
In a written reply to a parliamentary question, Mdladlana said the effect on youth of the global economic crisis that broke out in 2008 was so serious that unless swift action was taken, youth unemployment could become unsustainable, putting social cohesion at risk.
The inaugural Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development economic survey, released last month, indicated South Africa had the worst rate of unemployment among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 of all countries surveyed.
Racial disparities further compounded matters, with 53.4% of all young blacks between the ages of 15 and 24 unemployed at the end of 2009 - three times worse than the unemployment rate of 14.5% of young white South Africans, he said.
Young people who lacked general or vocational education and work experience were especially vulnerable to the crisis.
"As part of our intervention to alleviate youth unemployment, we introduced apprentice, learnership and internship allowances as (a) form of subsidies to learners while undergoing training under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
"The employers also received tax allowances under the Income Tax Act administered by the South African Revenue Service."
Mdladlana said these allowances had since been transferred to the higher education and training department, along with the Skills Development Act functions.