No degree, no job

About 56% of the 7.6 million South Africans who were unemployed in the third quarter of the year do not have a matric qualification –and 34.1% only have a matric certificate, according to figures in the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) from Stats SA.

The figures, released on Tuesday, show that 2% of those unemployed are graduates, while 7.2% have other tertiary education qualifications.

The total unemployment rate in South Africa is 29.1%, compared to 29% in the second quarter of the year. At this time last year, unemployment was at 27.5%.

Stats SA said that, according to the expanded definition, unemployment was at 38.5%. This refers to people aged between 15 and 64 who are without work. They are capable of working but are too discouraged to continue looking for work, or do not look for work for other reasons.

The country’s unemployment is now the highest it has been in 11 years. The labour force in the third quarter comprised about 32.1 million people, with 16.3 million employed and 6.7 million unemployed.

Of the 15.4 million people who are not economically active, there are 2.8 million discouraged jobseekers and 12.7 million people who are not economically active.

According to Stats SA, the percentage of young people aged between 15 and 24 who are not in education, employment or training rose to 32.3% in the third quarter, compared with 31.1% last year.

SA's labour force in the third quarter

Investec economist Lara Hodes said that unemployment in South Africa was far worse than in countries such as Spain (13.8%), Colombia (10.8%), Italy (9.5%), Russia (4.5%) and Mexico (3.6%).

Christie Viljoen, an economist at PwC, said most job losses over the past year were among uneducated and semi-educated tradespeople. In the crafts and related industries sector, 106 000 job opportunities were lost, 39 000 factory and machine operators lost their jobs and in elementary occupations such as routine manual labour, 55 000 posts were lost.

Viljoen said that, with more posts occupied by uneducated people being lost, people in low-income households would be the worst hit – and this would result in increasing inequality and poverty.

Isaac Matshego and Dennis Dykes, of Nedbank’s economics unit, said a concerning figure was the number of people who had been without a job for more than a year. In the third quarter, it made up 70.9% of the number of unemployed people and 20.7% of the labour force.

Stanford Mazhindu, spokesperson for trade union the United Association of SA, said the 512 888 job opportunities that were lost between the third quarter of 2018 and the third quarter of this year clearly showed that government policy was failing.

There was little to show for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of a giant infrastructure fund that would form part of his economic stimulus plan. The same went for an agreement to create 275 000 new posts a year, which was signed at the Jobs Summit in October last year, said Mazhindu.

At the end of July, Ramaphosa received a report from Nedlac – the consensus-seeking body comprising government, business, labour and civil society – on the progress made over the undertakings agreed to during the summit.

The report refers to progress and challenges being experienced with the implementation of job creation projects, mechanisms to clear stumbling blocks to effective implementation and steps to retain jobs, reported.

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said that a committee would meet with the president on a monthly basis to report on progress.

Hodes said that part of the reason for the high unemployment figure was because the labour force grew by 141 000 (0.6%) to 23.1 million, while the number of workers employed increased by 62 000 (0.4%).

The number of unemployed people increased by 78 000 to 7.7 million and there were 2.8 million discouraged workers.

Dykes said the figures were in line with other indicators of economic activity, which were just not getting off the ground.

The prospects of employment growth are also poor as a result of low confidence, poor economic growth prospects of just 0.5% this year and uncertainty in the labour environment.

  • The QLFS is a survey conducted among 30 000 households and collects data about individuals’ economic activity, while Stats SA’s Quarterly Employment Survey collects information from about 20 000 businesses outside the agricultural sector.

As the unemployment figures continue to depress, what, if anything, should and can government do to boost job creation? Do you think the private sector is playing its part?

SMS us on 35697 using the keyword JOBS and tell us what you think. Please include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50.


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