Jobless rate for youth with tertiary qualifications rises above 20%

South Africa’s youth unemployment rate for those who have a tertiary qualification has increased to over 20% - an indication that the SA labour market is having difficulty absorbing young workers even when they have a qualification. 

According to Stats SA’s latest Labour Market Dynamics report, while unemployment rates for South Africans aged between 15 and 34 increased for all education levels between 2012 and 2017, the relative increase was highest for those with tertiary education.

This rate increased from 17.5% in 2012 to 22.4% in 2017 - an increase of 4,8 percentage points – which means one in five youth with tertiary qualifications are unemployed but actively seeking work. 

To be classified as unemployed, an individual must be “completely without work”, available to work and taking active steps to find a job. 

This youth unemployment rate does not include discouraged work-seekers, which are defined as people who want to work but have given up hope of finding employment. 

While the jobless rate for youth with tertiary qualifications showed the biggest percentage increase, it is still far lower than for youth with secondary qualifications or below. 

The youth unemployment rate for those with matric was 38.3% in 2017, and for those without matric it was 44.4%. 

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