Johannesburg - Young people who cannot find work are losing out on opportunities to expand and strengthen their skills, a research project commissioned by the Centre for Development and Enterprise has found.
This increased the likelihood that the millions of South African unemployed youth become disconnected from the rest of society, researchers said.
"Much of this joblessness is the result of the dismal state of the education system."
According to the research, there was evidence that those who did not finish high school were three times less likely to find work than those who completed matric.
Only 13% of black matriculants went on to higher education, compared to half of white matriculants.
"... Young people who have some tertiary education have a 100% better chance of finding employment than those with only a matric."
While flawed evaluation procedures made the measurement of government-led youth initiatives difficult, the research found that such policies appeared to have little impact.
As such, it was impossible to tell which programmes were working and should be strengthened, from those which did not warrant further funding.
Rural youth in particular were often isolated from the social networks which could link them with job opportunities.
Multi-generational unemployment also meant that more youth were "becoming increasingly resigned to never finding a job", the research found.
Those who found themselves outside the labour market had little understanding of how it worked and were therefore not aware of the best job-finding methods.
"Research from rural KwaZulu-Natal suggests that some of the unemployed will not take jobs which are perceived to provide insufficient income to establish a family and a household."
Many would refuse jobs they did not consider ideal, rather than gaining work experience which would help them to secure such jobs later on.
The research, which was conducted by a team led by University of Cape Town political studies and sociology professor Jeremy Seekings, found that greater understanding was needed of the problems facing the youth and how they coped.
Quality education and tertiary training opportunities needed to be developed and the South African economy needed to grow in order to accommodate more job seekers.
The research concluded that there was a need for greater education about labour markets and "the world of work".
"... 'Becoming adult' is an attitudinal and policy issue that needs to be talked about in rural and urban South Africa."
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