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Unemployment, crime, and corruption tops the list of young South Africans in Deloitte Global Millennial and Gen Z Survey

Unemployment, crime and corruption within business and politics tops the list of concerns among South Africa’s young adults between the ages of 27 and 38 years of age, or millennials, while joblessness, economic growth as well as 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 own mental health, worsening economic prospects in the year ahead and financial situation. These are some of the findings of the 10th Deloitte Global Millennials and Gen Z survey released today, as South Africa celebrates Youth Day.

The survey was conducted by professional services firm Deloitte among 14 600 millennials, those born between January 1983 and December 1994, and 8200 Gen Z, or those born between January 1995 and December 2003, in 45 countries to yield a representative sample of just under 23 000 people between the ages of 18 and 38 in 2021. The survey was conducted in January and February this year.

“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 asSouth Africa has experienced, it is understandable that jobs and crime wouldtop the list of concerns, especially for those young adults starting families,”says Tumelo Seaketso, Director, Organisational Transformation at Deloitte Consulting Africa. 

Forty-seven percent 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%). This probably reflects the outbreak of COVID 19 over the past year. 

For South Africa’s Gen Z unemployment is the greatest concern for 46% of respondents, while economic growth concerns about 26% and education, skills and training is a concern for 24%. For their global peers, the top three issues are the environment and climate change (26%), followed by unemployment (25%) and healthcare and disease revention (21%).

“In the 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,” said Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global Deputy CEO and Chief People and Purpose Officer.

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 thesame view, compared to 66% globally.

Also, in the year where Black Lives Matter 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. They believe Individuals and activists are doing the most to reduce systemic racism, while the education system, legal system, government and business falls short of their potential to drive change. 

In South Africa, 41% of millennials feels discriminated against by government, 36% feels targeted on social media, 34% feel discriminated against by business and 27% feels 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 says they feel stressed or anxious most of the time and have taken time off work because of it. The leading causes of anxiety are their own 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.

Business has some work to do winning young people over. The percentage of both millennials and Gen Z who believe business has a positive impact on society has fallen over the last three years, from 67% in 2020 to 50% this year for South African millennials and from 70% in 2020 to 58% for Gen Z. Seventy-five percent of South African millennials believe business focuses on its own agenda rather than wider society while 59% of millennials and 55% of Gen Z believe it has no wider ambition than making money.

Young people also have a bleak outlook for the economy and their finances in the year ahead.  Sixty-five percent of South Africa’s millennials believe things willworsen economically over the next 12 months while only 19% think they willimprove while 53% of Gen Z believe things will get worse. Forty-three percentof global millennials and 41% of global Gen Z believe things will get worse.Fifty-nine percent of South African millennials and 49% of Gen Z believe thesocio-political situation will worsen.

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 SouthAfrica’s millennials say they have seriously followed government’s healthguidelines, against 74% for their global peers while 82% of South Africa’s GenZ did, well ahead of 69% for their counterparts around the world. Eighty-nine percent of South African respondents in both categories believe the pandemic has inspired them to make a positive change to improve their own lives, compared to 71% for millennials and 70% for Gen Z globally. South Africans also believe COVID 19 has made them more aware of the needs of others in their community and brought about solidarity more than their peers in other parts of the globe.

“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,” concludes Seaketso. 

For more information and to view the full results of Deloitte's 2021 MillennialSurvey, visit: 


The 2021 report solicited the views of 14,655 millennials and 8,273 Gen Zs (22,928 respondents total) from 45 countries across North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. The survey was conducted using an online, self-complete-style interview. Fieldwork was completed between 8 January and 18 February 2021. 

This year’s report marks the first time Deloitte Global researched millennials and Gen Zs in the same number of countries. Last year, Gen Zs were surveyed in just 20 countries. Year-to-year comparisons of Gen Z responses were influenced by the addition of 25 new geographies and should be considered accordingly. 

Millennials included in the study were born between January 1983 and December 1994. Generation Z respondents were born between January 1995 and December 2003.

The report represents a broad range of respondents, from those with executive positions in large organizations to others who are participating in the gig economy, doing unpaid work or are unemployed.  Additionally, the Gen Z group includes students who have completed or are pursuing degrees, those who have completed or plan to complete vocational studies, and others who are in secondary school and may or may not pursue higher education.