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The Employment Environment for Youth in Rural South Africa: A Mixed Methods Study


Wilkinson, Andra L.; Pettifor, Audrey E.; Rosenberg, Molly Sears; Halpern, Carolyn Tucker; Thirumurthy, Harsha; Collinson, Mark A.; & Kahn, Kathleen (2017). The Employment Environment for Youth in Rural South Africa: A Mixed Methods Study. Development Southern Africa, 34(1), 17-32. PMCID: PMC5300739


South Africa has high youth unemployment. This paper examines the predictors of youth employment in rural Agincourt, Mpumalanga Province. A survey of 187 out-of-school 18-24 year olds found only 12% of women and 38% of men were currently employed. Men with skills/training were significantly more likely to report employment, mostly physical labour (aOR: 4.5; CI: 1.3, 15.3). In-depth interviews with 14 of the youth revealed women are perceived more suitable for formal employment, which is scarce informing why women were more likely to pursue further education and yet less likely to be employed. Ten key informants from local organisations highlighted numerous local youth employment resources while, in contrast, all youth in the sample said no resources were available, highlighting a need for the organisations to extend their services into rural areas. As these services are focused on entrepreneurship, programs to increase financial literacy and formal employment opportunities are also needed.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Development Southern Africa


Wilkinson, Andra L.
Pettifor, Audrey E.
Rosenberg, Molly Sears
Halpern, Carolyn Tucker
Thirumurthy, Harsha
Collinson, Mark A.
Kahn, Kathleen