In its latest economic report, the World Bank looks at how South Africa can use a sizeable demographic shift – the growth of its work-age population – to its advantage. It outlines how economic prosperity can be attained through a cycle of job intensive growth, enhanced productivity, greater saving, and by making substantial improvements to education. All of which will help the country’s youth to drive economic growth by as much as 5.4 percent.
South Africa’s working-age population (those between 15 and 64 years of age) has grown significantly in recent years
“We hope that analysis and evidence offered in this report will promote informed dialogue and policy debate about the country’s development priorities pertaining to job creation and economic inclusion in a context of major demographic changes”, said Guang Zhe Chen, World Bank Country Director for South Africa in a statement.
South Africa’s working-age population (those between 15 and 64 years of age) has grown significantly in recent years: increasing from 11 million in 1994 to 54.9 million in 2015, with that number set to grow by a further nine million over the next 50 years.
This surge in working-age population poses a unique opportunity for the country and not just for improving the South Africa’s economic growth, but for the improvement of living standards for all. However, this window of opportunity it hampered by high unemployment and poor job creation rates, with more than 30 percent of its workforce currently out of work.
“We see that education is the greatest priority for South Africa if it is to harness its demographic opportunity to propel growth,” contends World Bank Program Leader, Catriona Purfield. “Getting basic schooling right is the first step to ensuring that school leavers and graduates have the foundational skills necessary to function in the modern workplace.”