The Truth About Unemployment In South Africa


South Africa’s unemployment figures are quite high, while the economy remains under pressure. According to recent statistics, nearly half of adults under the age of 35 are unemployed. These figures have also shown to cut across the education divide. 

At 28%, unemployment in South Africa is staggeringly high and is as a result of a range of contributing factors.  

Some of the main factors leading to unemployment in South Africa include the evolving nature of the labour market as well as the mismatch of skills needed in the labour market and those provided through the educational system. 

What is evident is that South Africa’s labour market favours highly skilled employees. 

Further factors contributing to unemployment in South Africa: 

Uneven quality of South Africa’s public schooling system 

23 years as a democratic country does not necessarily mean that the inequalities of the past have been reversed. The education system in South Africa still features a number of challenges in previously disadvantaged communities, meaning that for learners who are products of this system, finding a job becomes even harder. 

Racial and gender inequalities  

Studies have shown that Africans and Coloureds earn far less than their White ad Indian counterparts. African women are more likely to earn less than their male counterparts too. Such inequalities continue to have a negative effect on employment rates, as deserving, qualified individuals are not afforded the opportunities. 

Many young people have given up looking for work 

Often dejected following negative responses to their applications, many young people have given up looking for employment. This is over and above the number of individuals above the age of 35 years who have also given up. 

Barriers to employment include geographic location. 

Individuals living outside metropolitan areas find it more challenging to find employment. 

Work-seeking costs are expensive 

On average, it takes almost R600 monthly to seek employment. Many job seekers simply cannot afford this. 

Lack of access 

Poorer young people may not have access to social networks that can be used to access the labour market, thus lowering their chances of getting the access they need to opportunities.


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