Understanding the challenges young adults face is crucial to pave psychological pathways that can help mitigate these struggles and inspire change. Our recent poll on YourView delved into “The Struggles Faced by Young Adults in South Africa”. Here’s the consumer insights into what our youth (aged 18-35 years) had to say. 

The Challenges of South African Youth – Poll

Finding Jobs in Desired Fields – 59.2%

Our poll revealed that the most significant struggle for young South Africans is finding a job in their desired field. A staggering 59.2% admitted that this was a primary struggle. This is a disheartening statistic considering the paramount importance of career satisfaction and wellbeing.

  • Unemployment and underemployment not only affect individuals’ financial capability but also their self-esteem and life satisfaction.
  • An increasing number of educated and skilled young adults are forced to settle for jobs that are below their qualifications, leading to what economists call “underemployment”.

Coping with Escalating Costs – 54.6%

Next in line was grappling with escalating costs, being experienced by 54.6% of respondents.

  • South Africa’s inflation rate is leading to spiralling living costs, which are putting a severe strain on young adults trying to meet ends.

Difficulties in Sticking to a Budget – 51.7%

Sticking to a budget was a pain point for 51.7% of young South Africans in our poll.

  • This indicates a lack of financial literacy among many young individuals. This shortcoming can lead to financial instability and an uncertain future.

Work-Life Balance – 50.0% 

Finding a balance between work, personal life, and leisure was close behind, troubling half of our respondents.

  • This suggests that while they struggle with finding work in their desired fields, managing work pressure and carving out personal and leisure time in their hectic lives is quite a challenge for young adults.

Enhancing Financial Knowledge – 48.5%

Within the set of challenges, improving financial knowledge became a concern for 48.5% of respondents.

  • The need for better financial knowledge emphasises the importance of economic literacy in today’s world, echoing the earlier issue of sticking to a budget.

Addressing Mental Health – 44.4%

Managing mental health was a significant challenge for 44.4% of participants.

  • One crucial factor in addressing mental health challenges is to consider the unique socio-economic context within which South African youth live. The pressures stemming from domestic violence, high crime rates, and economic uncertainty significantally contribute to mental health issues. Furthermore, the rapid development of technology and social media present their own set of challenges, including cyberbullying and online harassment. Yet, there is hope as more young adults break the stigma and openly address mental health problems, indicating a crucial step forward in managing this emerging crisis.

Building and Maintaining Friendships – 35.9%

Further, 35.9% of young adults found building and maintaining friendships challenging.

  • The strain of the ‘social’ factor becomes evident as nearly a third of participants expressed difficulty in maintaining healthy friendships.

Understanding Tax Obligations – 30.9%

Understanding tax obligations was a struggle for 30.9% of participants.

  • When it comes to financial responsibilities, this points to another significant hurdle for young South Africans.

Accessing a Support System – 28.6%

A substantial 28.6% of young adults struggle to access a support system.

  • This fact underscores the importance of strong, supportive relationships and networks in promoting young adults’ wellbeing.

Sexuality and Gender Discovery – 17.2%

Interestingly, the least common struggle was related to sexuality and gender discovery, which was mentioned by only 17.2% of the participants.

  • It’s worth noting that while this may be the smallest proportion, it’s an area of struggle for a significant number of individuals. This suggests that these issues still require acknowledgment and appropriate societal and institutional response.

Overall, these insights not only help sketch a better picture of the struggles facing the young adults in South Africa but also help in identifying areas that need societal, governmental, and institutional intervention to ensure a better future for them. It’s clear there is a need for increased education, guidance and support across all areas of their lives. Brands that provide easy access to practical solutions and advice will have the advantage.

Proactive Solutions for Youth in South Africa

In an article on IOL, a proactive approach was discussed to help South Africa solve the various challenges faced by its youth. These challenges include education, employment, economic difficulties, crime, and inadequate public infrastructure and basic services.

  • The article suggests that municipalities, both local and district, should collaborate with provincial and national governments to develop and support initiatives aimed at empowering young people and improving their communities.
  • South Africa’s youth unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2023 stood at a concerning 32.9%, one of the highest globally. This situation negatively impacts graduates entering the job market and those exploring entrepreneurship but struggling to scale their businesses due to the nation’s economic challenges.
  • The high cost of living further burdens employed young workers, often forcing them to support their families while establishing an acceptable standard of living for themselves.
  • Insufficient infrastructure and public services have also contributed to various issues, such as unavailability of clean drinking water due to government negligence, understaffed hospitals and clinics, limited resources, and struggling rural businesses.
  • Community schools face challenges such as loss of teaching hours due to water shortages and difficulty of access during the rainy season, directly affecting learners and teachers alike.
  • The article implies that reckoning with South Africa’s current youth hardships requires proactive measures and collaboration between public and private sectors. This approach will help avoid perpetuating these issues for future generations and pave the way for a brighter future for South Africa.

Mental Health Stress Among Working Young Adults – Opinion Piece

In an opinion piece published on News24, Luzuko Tena pointed out an often-neglected aspect of South Africa’s youth employment crisis – the severe stress experienced by those who are gainfully employed. The mental health struggles of the young employed population are just as critical a concern as the staggering youth unemployment rate.

  • South African youth currently face multiple challenges concurrently. These include the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession, and the spiralling cost of living aside from the considerable youth unemployment rate. This proves that achieving employment is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to the well-being of young people.
  • Among the many professional sectors, the media and marketing scene stands out, given the industry’s demanding and high-pressure nature, often resulting in extended work hours. While rewarding, these professions can also drain the mental resources of young professionals without adequate recovery time, potentially causing what Tena referred to as a ‘burnout epidemic.’
  • The need to destigmatize and normalise conversations about mental health in the workplace and broader society was also emphasised. Equally important is to ensure access to mental health facilities and services and the creation of safe spaces through employee-assistance programs to support these conversations.
  • Outside work, Tena underscores the value of community, highlighting the necessity for young adults to engage in activities they enjoy and foster relationships that can provide validation and support.

Mental health emerges as a crucial domain needing attention when talking about young adults’ struggles, whether they are employed or job-seeking. This realisation underscores the need for holistic, multi-faceted solutions to address the myriad challenges that the youth face today.