Cape Town - South Africa has the third highest unemployment rate in the world for people between the ages of 15 to 24, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risk 2014 report.
The report estimates that more than 50% of young South Africans between 15 and 24 are unemployed.
Only Greece and Spain have higher unemployment in this age range than SA, the report states.
The other two countries in the top 5 of most unemployed youth are Portugal and Italy. Both have youth unemployment of more than 30%, but less than 40%.
The report calls the more than 73 million unemployed people between 15 and 24 in the world the "lost generation".
"At the same time the rising cost of higher education has left a generation with unpayable debt and little chance of finding a job," states the report.
It further estimates that more than 25% (about 300 million people) of the world's youth have no productive work.
"Much of the younger generation lacks trust in traditional political institutions and leaders, while recent revelations about cyber espionage have undermined trust in the internet in general and the governance of cyberspace in particular," according to the report.
Female respondents and younger individuals gave higher scores for the impact particularly of environmental risks, such as water crises, greater incidence of natural catastrophes, the loss of biodiversity and greater incidence of extreme weather events.
Fiscal crises and structural unemployment and underemployment are regarded as important global risks, with strong links to issues like rising income inequality and political and social instability.
"The failure of global governance emerges as a central risk that is connected to many different issues," according to the report.
The decline of trust in institutions, lack of leadership, persisting gender inequalities and data mismanagement were among trends to watch, according to survey respondents.
Experts added further concerns including various forms of pollution and accidents or abuse involving new technologies, such as synthetic biology, automated vehicles and 3-D printing.
"The generation coming of age in the 2010s faces high unemployment and precarious job situations, hampering their efforts to build a future and raising the risk of social unrest," said the report.
In developing countries, an estimated two-thirds of the youth are not fulfilling their economic potential.
"The generation of digital natives is full of ambition to improve the world, but feels disconnected from traditional politics. Their ambition needs to be harnessed if systemic risks are to be addressed," warns the report.
The chronic gap between the incomes of the richest and poorest citizens is seen as the risk that is most likely to cause serious damage globally in the coming decade, according to over 700 global experts that contributed to report.
“While in the emerging markets there are more jobs to be had, the workforce does not yet possess the broad based skill-sets necessary to satisfy demand," explained David Cole, group chief risk officer of Swiss Re.
"It’s vital we sit down with young people now and begin planning solutions aimed at creating fit-for-purpose educational systems, functional job-markets, efficient skills exchanges and the sustainable future we all depend on.”
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