Young, jobless and desperate – A ‘slow and painful death’

2012-06-16 16:01

Jennifer Dlamini is on her fourth degree at one of South Africa’s top universities because she cannot find a job.

She is so ashamed of her unemployment status she asked City Press to change her name.

The 26-year-old lists her academic qualifications: a Bachelor of Arts in history and political science, an international relations postgraduate diploma and an honours in politics.

“I am currently finishing off my Master of Arts thesis in politics,” she says.

“My parents sacrificed a lot for my education, yet here I am.”

Dlamini says many dismiss people like her as “lazy”, “not trying hard enough” and “unskilled for the economy”.

“They don’t understand I feel ashamed of not supporting myself and my family whereas all I want to be is financially secure and independent,” she says.

As someone who is unemployed, she says, “you die a slow, painful death”.

According to Statistics SA’s labour force survey for the first quarter of 2012, there are around 2.7 million employed graduates of all ages.

There are also 280 000 unemployed people in the country who hold degrees or diplomas – a figure which reflects a more than 16% increase on last year’s 241 000.

The survey also reports there are another 425 000 graduates who are not economically active.

But labour analyst Loane Sharp, from labour brokerage Adcorp, sets the number of unemployed graduates at a staggering 600 000.

Despite Dlamini’s plight, education does stand young people in better stead to find jobs.

Adcorp’s index of employment indicators reveals those who have no formal schooling have only a 3.3% chance of finding jobs within 12 months of looking for one, while those with a matric have a 40.6% chance of becoming employed in the year after they finish school.

However, those with diplomas have a 64.6% chance, those with bachelor’s degrees have a 63.7% chance, and graduates with honours degrees have a 71.2% chance of finding a job in their area of study in their first year of job-seeking.

But that figure decreases the more educated they become.

Holders of master’s degrees and doctorates have a less than 58.7% chance of finding a job in their field of expertise within the first year of looking and many change careers, taking jobs wherever they can be found.

The Human Sciences Research Council’s (HSRC) most recent research on unemployment, conducted in 2005 when the number of unemployed graduates stood at 130 000, shows that education does make finding a job easier.

At the time, about 30% of those aged 25 – 34 who had a matric or less were unemployed, compared to only 13% with a diploma or 8% with a university degree.

“Graduate unemployment is frustrating to those experiencing it, and a great loss to the economy. It should be addressed easily through matching and reskilling programmes,” says the HSRC report.

The 2005 report reveals that African graduates looked for jobs the longest, with 52% of them having searched for longer than 18 months.

Dlamini, who comes from Kwadwesi, outside Port Elizabeth, says: “It’s not fun ukuhlala eloxion (to be unemployed in the township).”

She moved to Johannesburg to try and find work and lives with a friend.

She survives on occasional contract research work.

“I mean I’ve got three degrees from what supposedly is one of the best institutions in the country. I’m ambitious,” she says.

The SA Graduates Development Association (Sagda) has a database of 7 000 unemployed graduates looking for jobs.

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) has more than 16 000 young graduates registered on its online jobs database.

Performance monitoring and evaluation minister Collins Chabane tells City Press that the NYDA database is used to service private sector, government and non-governmental organisations that are looking to recruit young people.

“The challenges experienced in the management of the database have been where providers do not place people sourced from the database due to their lack of experience and competition with better qualified candidates,” Chabane says.

In March, Chabane told Parliament that in the previous 10 months, 10 companies and institutions hired about 1 400 young employees through the NYDA database.

Insurance company Assurex Comfort hired 1 000 as insurance salespeople while the Gauteng department of health and social development employed 200 of them as data capturers in hospitals across the province.

At the end of March last year, there were nearly 130 000 vacancies in the country’s public health sector, with 5 000 doctors’ posts vacant in Limpopo alone.

The Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (Palama) says the scarcest skills in the public service are in the fields of finance, health, social services, and human resources.

Also in short supply are senior government and local government officials, policy and planning experts, and those with expertise in research and development. Palama, which was established in August 2008 as a capacity-building vehicle for government, says the public service is also short of human resources clerks, office administrators, payroll clerks and secretaries. The country’s dire unemployment situation is further highlighted by the demand for junior positions in the wholesale and retail sector, where a single job advertisement receives as many as 53 responses. However, the Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority also says filling a financial management vacancy in the sector is very difficult. Those job ads, they say, receive fewer than seven responses each.
Where to acquire scarce skills

Management training

The Management College of Southern Africa provides programmes through supported distance education.

AstroTech offers a training programme called the 3-Day MBA (Master of

Business Administration) for professionals wanting to broaden their

business exposure and anyone wanting to develop their holistic business

skills. Many business schools also offer management courses.

Conservation science

The University of the Western Cape offers a Bachelor of Science in the

subject, as do Rhodes University and the University of University of


You need passes of between 50% and 59% in maths, physical science and life sciences.

The minimum qualification is the national diploma in nature conservation, which takes two years.

Midwifery and nursing

Students can enrol at one of the 394 nursing education institutions which provide a total of 1?285 nursing programmes.

These institutions are registered with the SA Nursing Council.

In South Africa, midwifery training is as either a four-year degree or a

four-year diploma at universities and registered nursing colleges,

according to the Society of Midwives of SA.

Sports coaches and instructors

Various universities offer sports management programmes as part of a Bachelor of Human Movement Science degree.

There are also National Diploma and BTech qualifications in sport management.

Matric with maths or maths literacy is preferred while a pass in biology is needed for the Human Movement Science degree.

Blacksmiths and metalworkers

Blacksmiths create objects made of iron and steel.

Johannesburg-based Vuka Design offers the only blacksmith course in South Africa.

It has a one-year certificated learnership in craft production equivalent to a Grade 10.

The learning programme includes blacksmithing, coppersmithing, welding, business skills and drawing.

Skilled agricultural workers

Training is available at Fort Cox and Tsolo colleges of agriculture, both in Eastern Cape.

Other colleges include Elsenburg in the Cape, Madzivhandila in Limpopo,

Owen Sitole and Cedara in KwaZulu-Natal and Lowveld in Potchefstroom,

which offer courses such as animal, crop production and farm management.

Matric is required.

» Are you young and struggling to navigate the job market? Or about to finish high school and not sure what route to follow to eventually land your dream job? Send your career-related questions to and our panel of experts will tackle them.

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