Unemployment and what is holding us back in 2017

Unemployment in 2017

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey released in August 2017, unemployment in South Africa is still a huge issue.

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey released in August 2017, unemployment in South Africa is still a huge issue.

South Africa’s unemployment rate is currently 27.7%, which means there are 6.17 million unemployed job seekers in South Africa.

The stats reveal that 39% of all unemployed South Africans have never worked before, while an enormous 60% of unemployed youth have never worked before.

Furthermore, a large number of elderly job seekers are struggling with long term unemployment, with as many as five years since their last job.

Barriers to employment

-          SA’s high poverty rate contributes to unemployment, as jobs are often located far from residences, meaning expensive transport costs for workers, which eat into their earnings or make it impossible to reach workplaces at all. Some groups are pushing the government to introduce a transport subsidy, to enable workers to afford to travel for work.

-          Despite a small jump in the Global Competitiveness Index, South Africa is still struggling with issues such as the development of transport infrastructure, political uncertainty and the slowdown in the Chinese economy. This, amongst other issues, has led to increased unemployment.

-          The Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, announced that corruption costs the SA gross domestic product (GDP) the loss of 76 000 jobs that would otherwise have been created, as well as at least R27 billion annually. Collusion increases the costs of doing business, stunts the dynamism and competitiveness that is needed and has a negative impact on growth and jobs, he explained.

-          Entrepreneurship in South Africa is also dropping. Government intervention in the form of entrepreneur training and micro-finance options could slow this decline. “The exclusion of most historically disadvantaged South Africans from the ability and opportunity to own productive assets must be remedied to unlock the competitive and development benefits of full participation by all in the economy,” Patel said at the Competition Law, Economics and Policy Conference at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in early September.

-          The elderly unemployed group is finding that a lack of updated skills is a barrier to their re-absorption into the job market. Training and up-skilling opportunities could assist this portion of the unemployed in finding work that utilizes their experience and expertise, while also ensuring their skills are relevant in today’s markets.

The fact that South Africa's economy showed 2.5% growth for the second quarter of the year offers a glimmer of hope.  The improved economy will lead to improved job opportunities and job security.

Mining and agriculture, especially, showed growth in recent months. However, due to mechanisation, this did not significantly impact employment levels.

- Elizabeth Mamacos