Johannesburg - Two in five young South Africans believe the best jobs go to the politically-connected, a survey revealed on Tuesday.
Of the 2287 respondents interviewed, 41% felt politically-connected people were more likely to get the best jobs, consumer insights company Pondering Panda said. While about 53% said the most qualified people were likely to be employed in top positions.
Respondents were aged between 18 and 34. Older respondents were more likely to believe that people who knew the right politicians got the best jobs.
About 46% of those aged between 25 and 34 believed this. The same number said top jobs were more likely to go to those who were qualified.
In contrast, 18 to 24-year-olds were more optimistic about the benefits of education, about 61% of this younger group felt the most qualified people got the best jobs.
"It is clear that many young South Africans feel that a connection to someone in politics would be more useful to them than a good education when it comes to finding a good job," Pondering Panda spokesperson Shirley Wakefield said.
"This view will discourage young people from pursuing their education further, and result in fewer skilled workers which South Africa desperately needs."
Most young South Africans felt nepotism was wrong.
Almost two thirds (65%) said giving jobs to friends and family was wrong, while 32% felt it was acceptable.
Women (74%) were also more likely to be against nepotism than men (56%).
Wakefield said: "Government must take the lead in changing this perception by emphasising the importance of education in its own hiring practices, and reducing corruption and nepotism.
"It is important for young people to have hope that they too can rise to the top of their profession, without the need for political connections."