How having a degree vs a matric affects your job prospects in South Africa right now

South Africa’s latest unemployment statistics show how likely you are to have a job with a degree or matric qualification.

The data shows that there is still a big unemployment gap between those who do and do not have a degree – although this gap has decreased for younger South Africans.

Among graduates in the 15–24 years age group the unemployment rate was 31% during this period, compared to 19.5% in the fourth quarter of 2019 – an increase of 11.4 percentage points quarter-on-quarter.

Despite this rather large increase, the unemployment rate among graduates is still lower than the rate among those with other educational levels, said Stats SA.

This shows that education is still the key to these young people’s prospects improving in the South African labour market, it said.

“The burden of unemployment is concentrated amongst the youth (aged 15–34 years) as they account for 63.4% of the total number of unemployed persons,” it said.

“Almost 4 in every 10 young people in the labour force did not have a job, with the unemployment rate within this group at 39.6% in the 1st quarter of 2019. Just under 30% of the youth have jobs and about half of them (48.8%) participate in the labour market.

“The unemployment rate among adults (aged 35–64 years) was 18% during this period, while the employment-to-population ratio and labour force participation rate was 57.4% and 70%, respectively, for this group.”


Historical data shows that compared to the fourth quarter of every year, unemployment among youth increases in the 1st quarter of every year.

This is mainly due to new entrants coming into the labour market, Stats SA said.

“The majority (85.7%) of the young unemployed graduates aged 15–24 years were new entrants into the labour market in the first quarter of 2019, while the rest have either lost their previous jobs, left their previous jobs or were re-entrants into the labour market,” it said.

Read: South Africa’s unemployment rate climbs to 27.6%

Must Read

Partner Content

Show comments

Trending Now

Follow Us

How having a degree vs a matric affects your job prospects in South Africa right now