Youth unemployment in South Africa has become a "national crisis", President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday at an event commemorating youth activism during the apartheid era.
Unemployment in Africa's most advanced economy has remained stubbornly high since white minority rule ended 25 years ago, and creating jobs is a major challenge for Ramaphosa as he aims to reignite an underperforming economy.
Unemployment inched up to 27.6% in the first quarter, official data showed in May, underscoring the task faced by Ramaphosa after his ANC party won re-election last month.
An expanded category of unemployment, including people who have stopped looking for work, rose to 38% in the first quarter from 37.0% in the previous three-month period.
"We are very much alive to the fact that youth unemployment is indeed a national crisis," Ramaphosa told an audience of mainly young people and students on National Youth Day.
The day honours scores of students killed during the 1976 Soweto uprising that helped focus global attention on the brutality of apartheid.
According to government agency Stats SA, the burden of unemployment is concentrated among the 15-34 age group who account for almost two-thirds of the jobless. Around four out of 10 young people do not have a job.