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This project emerged out of a multi-disciplinary roundtable discussion in 2015, where the need for a systematic overview of research, policies and interventions related to youth unemployment was recognised. The event was organised by the University of Cape Town’s Poverty and Inequality Initiative (PII), in collaboration with the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) and included representatives of various departments of national government, various academic disciplines and the Africa Office of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL). 

Aiming for a multi-disciplinary approach, the PII and the CSDA went on to lead a dedicated team of researchers to conduct the systematic overview, to suggest a more comprehensive and integrated theory of change for youth employability, and to translate this into policy-oriented documents. Senior staff collaborated to support junior researchers or post-graduate students in producing the overview, synthesis and final reports.

This project was funded by the Research Project on Employment, Income Distribution, and Inclusive Growth (REDI3x3) which receives its funding from the National Treasury's The Jobs Fund. The steering committee comprised individuals from the academic community and members of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), the Presidency and the National Treasury. The goal of this programme was to identify and synthesise: 

  1. the available evidence on the drivers of youth unemployment; 
  2. the historical development and implementation of policies aimed at increasing youth employability in South Africa; and 
  3. the available evidence on interventions and their effectiveness. 

In the final stage of the project, a high-level synthesis report compared the research evidence, policies, and interventions. It identified the areas where the three relate, but especially where policies and interventions should aim to be more comprehensive, context and/or target-group-specific. An integrated theory of change on youth (un)employment in South Africa emerged out of the research.