The myth of the jobless graduate

2013-04-14 14:00

Graduate unemployment is a vanishingly small problem in South Africa, at least if you don’t call the thousands of people moving through the Further Education and Training, and private college system, “graduates”.

Liberal think-tank Centre for Development and Enterprise this week published a study it commissioned from Stellenbosch University professors Servaas van der Berg and Hendrik van Broekhuizen.

The headline findings are that graduates from universities have an unemployment rate of about 5% – “low even by the standards of prosperous economic times in western Europe”.

Those who have some other kind of post-matric diploma or certificate have an unemployment rate of about 16%. While white graduates have an unemployment rate of 2%, black graduates have a rate of 6.7%.

The research seems to be a comprehensive reply to labour broker Adcorp’s much-maligned Employment Index publication, wherein analyst Loane Sharp regularly produces alternative labour statistics and attacks the official numbers of Stats SA.

Sharp last year published an estimate that 600?000 “university graduates” are unemployed, which sparked significant publicity.

The Centre for Development and Enterprise contends that “the facts and the arguments are wrong”, and lashes out at the “myth” of large-scale unemployment among especially black university graduates with humanities degrees.

The real figure is about 50?000 out of the country’s 1.1?million university graduates.

The think-tank’s report, based on Stats SA’s labour surveys from 1995 to 2011, draws a number of myth-busting conclusions.

In that period, South Africa more than doubled its pool of graduates from 463?000 to 1.1?million and the majority of them have found jobs.

Based on the latest Stats SA figures from the end of 2012, “diplomates” – people with matric and with non-university diplomas – have an unemployment rate of 14%.

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