Statistics South Africa has released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter of 2018, showing that South Africa ended last year with an unemployment rate of 27.1%.
This puts the unemployment rate at 0.4 of a percentage point lower than Q3 2018, where the rate climbed marginally to 27.5%.
However, as in previous surveys, there is a clear distinction between the unemployment rates across various education levels.
The latest report shows that of the 6.1 million unemployed persons in Q4 2018, about 57.1% had an education level below matric, followed by those with a matric at 34.2%.
By comparison, only 1.7% of the unemployed persons were graduates, while 6.3% had some form of tertiary qualification as their highest level of education.
The below graph shows how the unemployment rate by education status has changed in South Africa from 2011 to 2018.
Employers are looking for graduates
According to the Department of Labour’s latest job opportunities and employment report released in November 2018, there is also a clear demand for graduates in the workplace.
The report is based on a combination of online and newspaper advertisements, with data disaggregated by occupation, industry and province.
Overall, 38.6% of the total job vacancies advertised in 2017/18 required people with degree or diploma educational achievements.
This implies that there is a shift to a more educated labour force leading to an increasing share of high-skilled jobs in the economy, the Department of Labour said.
“The impact in the labour market is that those with less than grade 12 educational achievements will probably remain unemployed in the long-run as it was also noted that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will also bring its own labour market challenges.”