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Not a young adult’s world - SA’s youth feeling increasingly anxious about the future

South Africa - Johannesburg - 24 June 2021 - National unemployment campaign march took place at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown. Their demands include permanent jobs for all, creating jobs opportunities for the youth and scraping 18-35 age limit from all government jobs.Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

South Africa - Johannesburg - 24 June 2021 - National unemployment campaign march took place at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown. Their demands include permanent jobs for all, creating jobs opportunities for the youth and scraping 18-35 age limit from all government jobs.Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 26, 2021

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Johannesburg - Unemployment, crime and corruption top the list of concerns among South Africa’s young adults between the ages of 27 and 38. Joblessness, economic growth, education, skills and training are of utmost concern for their contemporaries between the ages of 18 and 26 years, part of generation Z.

Young people are also anxious about their mental health and the worsening economic prospects in the year ahead. And with SA in the grip of a third wave, young adults could be in for a rougher ride.

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These are some of the findings of the 10th Deloitte Global Millennials and Gen Z survey in 45 countries, sampling just fewer than 23 000 people between the ages of 18 and 38.

The survey was conducted among 14 600 millennials, those born between January 1983 and December 1994, and 8 200 Gen Z, or those born between January 1995 and December 2003.

Director of Organisational Transformation at Deloitte Consulting Africa, Tumelo Seaketso said 47% of South Africa’s millennials list unemployment as their leading concern, while 32% listed crime and safety as well as corruption within business and politics. For their global peers, health and disease prevention is the leading concern, expressed by 28%, followed by unemployment (27%) and climate change and the environment (26%).

“South Africa’s young people are in tune with their global peers, and even ahead of them in some respects. In a country with unemployment and crime levels as South Africa has experienced, it is understandable that jobs and crime would top the list of concerns, especially for those young adults starting families,” said Seaketso.

Deloitte Global Deputy CEO and Chief People and Purpose Officer, Michele Parmelee said over the last 10 years, Deloitte has been conducting the Millennial Survey, millennials and Gen Zs’ lives have changed, but their values have remained steadfast.

“They have sustained their idealism, their desire for a better world, and their belief that business can and should do more to help society. South Africa’s youth are acutely aware of inequality, with 82% saying wealth is not equally distributed in society compared to 69% of their global peers and 74% of Gen Zs expressing the same view, compared to 66% globally,” she said.

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According to the report and in the year where the Black Lives Matter campaign brought racism to the fore, Millennials and Gen Zs believe discrimination is widespread, likely enabled by systemic racism. One in five respondents globally feel personally discriminated against “all the time” or frequently because of an aspect of their backgrounds. Fifty-six percent of millennials and 60% of Gen Z globally said systemic racism is widespread in general society.

In South Africa, 41% of millennials feel discriminated against by government, 36% feel targeted on social media, 34% feel discriminated against by business and 27% feel discriminated against in their workplace or while going about their daily lives.

For South African Gen Z, 33% feel discriminated against by government, 39% on social media, 28% by business, 29% at the workplace and 31% in their daily lives. Forty-one percent of South Africa’s millennials have taken action to tackle discrimination compared to 29% globally. Forty-five percent of South Africa’s millennials and 50% of Gen Z said they feel stressed or anxious most of the time and have taken time off work because of it.

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The leading causes of anxiety are their long-term financial health, the welfare of their family, their career or job prospects, their day to day finances and their physical and mental health.

On the bright side, South Africa’s young adults have been found to be ahead of their global peers in conforming to Covid-19 health protocols. Eighty-three percent of South Africa’s millennials say they have seriously followed government’s health guidelines, against 74% for their global peers while 82% of South Africa’s Gen Z did, well ahead of 69% for their counterparts around the world.

“The survey shows that young people are increasing political involvement, aligning spending and career choices with their values, and driving change on societal issues that matter most to them,” concluded Seaketso.

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