Your Chances of Employment in South Africa Based on Your Education

Your Chances of Employment in South Africa Based on Your Education

The unemployment rate in South Africa hit an all-time high in the first quarter of 2021. In the first 3 months of 2021, the South African unemployment rate had reached 32,6%. 

As of the 1st of June, 15 million South Africans were employed. This figure is 28 000 fewer people than in the first quarter of the year. The number of employed people is at 7.2 million with an increase of 8 000 people from the last quarterer of 2021.

Breaking Down The Statistics

Whilst the unemployment rate in South Africa remained high, it is important to understand the various statistical elements. 

Between the first and second quarters of 2021, the number of people in South Africa who are not economically active has increased by 164 000. 

According to Stats SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey released by statistician-general Risenga Maluleke, the unemployment rate has risen 0.1 % from the last quarter of 2020.

This new unemployment rate of 32,6% is the highest recorded since the survey began in 2008.

Youths between the ages of 15 and 34 are seen to have an unemployment rate of 46.3% in the first quarter of this year. Whilst the unemployment rate for graduates was at 9.3%

This infographic reveals the key labour market indicators:

key labour market indicators

Education and Unemployment

This infographic breaks down the proportion of the employment based on your levels of education amongst the youth:  

employment based on your levels of education amongst the youth:

The survey showed that the graduate unemployment rate was 23.3% lower than the national unemployment rate. The unemployment rates in accordance with levels of education is as follows:

  • Less than matric: 38.3%
  • Matric: 34.0%
  • Other tertiary certifications: 21.2%
  • Graduates: 9.3%

Overall, the graduate unemployment rate is lower than the national unemployment rate. Have a look at the official infographic here:

graduate unemployment rate is lower than the national unemployment rate

The first quarter of 2021 was made up 7.2 million unemployed people, this was broken down into the following education categories:

  • Less than matric: 53,4%
  • Matric: 37.7%
  • Other tertiary qualification: 7.5%
  • Graduates: 2.1%

Employment Across The Sectors

The survey also gae notable information about employment across various sectors. In the first quarter of 2021, formal sector employment saw the only increase by 79 000 employees, all other sectors experienced a decline. 

The declines can be seen as follows:

  • Informal sector employment decreased by: 0.8%  (19 000)
  • Private household employment decreased by: 5.8% (70 000 people) 
  • Agricultural employment decreased by: 2.2% (18 000 people)

Employment increased in:

  • Finance by: 215 000 people 
  • Community and Social Services by: 16 000 people
  • Utilities by: 16 000 people 
  • Mining by: 12 000 people 
  • Manufacturing by: 7 000 people 

Major job losses were seen in the following sectors: 

  • Construction: 87 000 losses 
  • Trade: 84 000 losses
  • Private households: 70 000 losses
  • Transport: 40 000 losses 
  • Agriculture: 18 000 losses

Lockdown and Employment

In lockdown, 91.3% of employed South Africans were still paid in lockdown which was then reduced to 88.9% in the last quarter of 2020. 14% of these employees were paid a reduced salary during this time. 

Lockdown, Employment and Education

9/10 graduates who were employed during the coronavirus lockdown were paid in full. 

Scarce Skills and Employment Statistics

The sectors hit hardest by the employment losses are not specialised or scarce skill areas. Whilst areas such as finance and social service, which can be seen as scarce skills, saw an increase in working opportunities.

Education and Earning Potential

Matric College created the following infographic to explain the important link between earning potential and education

explain the important link between earning potential and education:

Without finishing school, an individual’s earning potential is shockingly low at R1 704. Whilst finishing primary school can raise your earning potential to R1 964, having completed some of your high school careers moves it up to R2 260

With a matric certificate, earning potentials are double that of a grade 11 or lower and reach to R4 977. With a year of studying after matric at a diploma level, your earning potential increases by 2,7%. 

Finally, a Bachelor’s Degree can send your earning potential up to R21 527 and will increase with further levels of education. 

Cost of Living

Putting all of this into perspective, here are a few facts about making ends meet in South Africa:

  • On average, food for one household in a month averages at R3 340.
  • Minimum wage in South Africa is around R3 500. 
  • 55% of South Africans live within the upper-boundary poverty line with a salary of R1 268 per month.

Furthering Your Education

To maintain a stable living in South Africa, and to increase your chance of finding a job, it is important that you further your career. 

This is especially true for fields within South Africa’s scarce skills list. The critical or scarce skills in South Africa include:

  • Accountant
  • Actuary 
  • Advertising Specialist 
  • Aeronautical Engineer
  • Agricultural Farm Manager 
  • Application Development Manager 
  • Architect
  • Business Manager 
  • Chef
  • Chief Information Officer 
  • Civil Engineer 
  • Data Scientist 
  • Digital Artist 
  • Dockmaster 
  • Draughtsperson
  • FEL College Principal 
  • Fraud Examiner 
  • General Accountant 
  • General Medical Practitioner 
  • Geologist 
  • Geophysicist 
  • Hydrologist
  • CT project manager
  • ICT security specialist
  • ICT systems analyst
  • Industrial Engineer 
  • Internal Auditor
  • Investment Advisor 
  • Manufacturer 
  • Mechanical Engineer 
  • Multimedia Designer 
  • Network Analyst 
  • Office Administrator 
  • Quantity Surveyor 
  • Registered Nurse 
  • Web Developer

Studying Scarce Skills Without Matric

Since only 50% of South African students that start school end up in grade 12, it is important to know that there are scarce skills that can be studied without a matric certificate. 

The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers offers 3 study streams, 2 of which can be started without a matric certificate. All three of these are considered scarce skills and are in high demand in South Africa:

Studying a scarce skill also means that you are less likely to lose your job within, let us say, a pandemic. All of the major job losses came from industries that were not considered to require “scarce skills”.

Matric Equivalent Certificates

Another option for students who are unable to finish high school is to choose matric equivalent certificates

These courses are different from traditional matric as they specialise in a particular field. Instead of learning all the matric subjects, you would focus on specialising in accounting. 

The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers offers these two courses that double as matric equivalent certificates: 

Trade Schools

Another option that students can pursue is a trade school. At trade school, students can specialise in a chosen field and build a career from the age of 16.

This means that they can branch into the working environment without ever finishing matric.

Author: Andrea Frisby 

Published: June 11, 2021


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