While South Africa is faced with numerous challenges including unemployment and limited access to and usage of financial services, this volume demonstrates how closer interrogation of these issues could uncover opportunities for economic participation and growth. It reveals that employment growth is not non-existent - it is rather the pattern of labour demand and job creation that is changing in form. Secondly, with the appropriate ingredients such as targeted education and training strategies and globalisation of the labour market, the apparent labour supply pressure can truly become a demographic dividend for the economy. Thirdly, concerning the financial sector, opportunities for enhanced access to finance, especially among the previously disadvantaged, are presenting themselves through, for instance, improvements in the ownership of bankable assets such as formal housing.As the debate regarding the extent to which the economy creates and/or sheds jobs and caters for young labour market entrants continues, it becomes necessary to add other dimensions that take the discourse to new heights. The one need is to complement macrolevel analysis of net labour market outcomes by identifying specific employment growth and contraction nodes within various economic sectors. Apart from demonstrating the apparent structural changes in the economy, such information also sheds more light on the opportunities for realising a more efficient labour market. The first article attempts to address this issue by analysing trends in major job shedding and gaining subsectors in the economy. In the process the analysis also raises caution about some of the limitations associated with the main sources of employment data in South Africa.South Africa's employment challenges (and opportunities) relate to both the demand and supply sides of the labour market. The second article explores the potential supply of labour on the basis of demographic trends as revealed by the previous two population censuses. The discussion is couched within the international context and it weighs the country's prospects for optimally utilising the so-called 'demographic dividend' compared with future global economic giants such as India and China. Other studies argue that one of the assets that makes these economies well positioned to become key global economic players in the medium to long term is their ability to capitalise on the ample supply of the work force.Apart from the analysis of past employment trends and future labour market dynamics, this volume also includes an article that revisits one of the challenges of widening access to financial services. Lack of collateral is one of the obstacles to banking the unbanked. The third paper analyses trends in formal housing ownership between 1996 and 2001. It argues that increased ownership of formal housing is one of the crucial steps in the desired direction. This process broadens the collateral base in the economy and creates an opportunity to have a more inclusive financial system. The analysis is premised on De Soto's proposition that property ownership and rights are key to unlocking capital in pursuit of economic development and promotion of economic activity.