The World Bank, in its recently released South African Economic Update Report, sheds light on inequality of opportunity among children and jobseekers in South Africa.

The report uses the Human Opportunity Index to measure progress on equality of opportunity in childhood and employment opportunity among South Africans, and finds that persisting childhood deprivation is likely to compromise the future prospects of many of South Africa’s children. These disconcerting results point to deprivation in access to health insurance, access to safe water on site and improved sanitation and early childhood development.

The report also confirms recent research findings that education accounts for much of the inequality in the labour market among job seekers, due to the shift in preference for skills, which is in line with global trends. Another significant finding is that geographic location now matters far more as a determining variable for access to employment than it did 4 years ago.

The findings have important implications for South Africa’s education system and for social and economic policy. Ultimately effective and targeted policies are needed to absorb the large number of job seekers with varying circumstances.

Look out for the forthcoming Transformation Audit 2012 which will feature these issues with contributions from leading experts and opinion leaders.

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