South Africa’s unemployment rate reached 34.9% in Q3 2021 – the highest figure on record as continued lockdown restrictions, load shedding and the July riots all impacted jobs in the country.
While the country’s job market is in a dismal state, additional data published by Statistics South Africa shows that not all South Africans are impacted equally and that a higher level of education can often be a cushion in the precarious labour market.
The data shows that South Africa has graduate unemployment of 12.5% – 22.4 percentage points lower than the national official unemployment rate. This is reflected across all major education levels including tertiary and school qualifications.
The unemployment rate for South Africans who have a tertiary qualification (no degree) is 23.2%, while South Africans with a matric certificate have an unemployment rate of 36.5%.
By comparison, those with some school education but no matric have an unemployment rate of 40.2%.
The importance of education is further highlighted by the country’s high youth unemployment rate which currently stands at 66.5%.
Stats SA’s data shows that approximately 3.4 million (33.5%) out of 10.2 million young people aged 15-24 years were not in any form of employment, education or training (NEET).
“Some young people have been discouraged with the labour market and they are also not building on their skills base through education and training – they are not in employment, education or training (NEET). The NEET rate serves as an important additional labour market indicator for young people,” the statistics body said.
Compared to Q3 2020, the percentage of young persons aged 15–34 years who were not in employment, education or training (NEET) increased by three percentage points from 43% to 46%.
The NEET rate for males increased by 2.5 percentage points, while for females the rate increased by 3.5 percentage points in Q3 2021. In both Q3 2020 and Q3 2021, more than four in every ten young males and females were not in employment, education or training.