StatsSA’s latest unemployment statistics show that it is becomingly increasingly difficult for young people to find jobs in South Africa – even if they have a degree.
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.
However, despite this rather large increase, the unemployment rate among graduates is still lower than the rate among those with other educational levels.
The unemployment rate for young South Africans with a matric was 55% in Q1 2019 – rising to 58.4% for those with less than a matric.
By comparison, the unemployment rate is 47.5% for young South Africans who have obtained a qualification from a tertiary institution other than a university.
This shows that education is still the key to these young people’s prospects improving in the South African labour market, StatsSA said.
Graduate exit surveys
With future job prospects on the line, the choice of where and what you study has become increasingly important in South Africa.
One of the best indicators of how graduates are doing is the Graduate Exit Survey – typically completed by students before or at their graduation ceremony.
These surveys typically ask students whether they are currently employed, how easy it was to find a job, and how much they are currently earning.
Below are the survey results from two of the biggest universities in South Africa – the University of Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand.
UCT published its graduation survey results for the class of 2018 at the start of May.
The survey asked 4,791 graduating students about their plans after graduating and whether they had already secured employment.
The private sector emerged as the leading employer of 53.46% of graduates, with 19.71% employed in the public sector, and 6.01% by non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
In respect of their monthly earnings, the research indicated that 23.39% of students earn between R20,000 and R30,000, 16.14% earn between R15,001 and R20,000, and 5.21% between R5,001 and R7,000.
Around 80% of UCT’s class of 2018 are “meaningfully occupied”. Of these:
- 44.48% are employed;
- 30.78% are studying further; and
- 3.75% are self-employed.
The results show that the Faculty of Health Sciences was the top performing faculty in terms of graduate employability, with 69.94% of all medical students employed at the time of the survey. Close behind was the Faculty of Law, with 63.39% of students employed.
Only 10.71% of UCT’s 2018 graduates are still seeking employment.
“The results this year show that UCT graduates remain highly sought after,” said Nawaal Boolay, Careers Service acting director.
“We continue to support these graduates through our online job portal, [one-on-one] career consultations, job expos and career development workshops.
“Graduates have access to our service for up to three years after graduating,” she said.
Wits published its latest Graduate Exit Survey results at the end of December.
The survey targeted students who were capped at graduation ceremonies between March 2017 and July 2018. Nearly 14,000 attended graduation during this period of which around 6,000 responded to the survey.
The results show that
- 52% of graduates were employed; and
- 29% were furthering their studies.
Of those employed, 97% secured employment within six months of completing their qualification at Wits.
67% found employment during their studies or prior to completion – 26% within three months and 4% within six months
60% of respondents said that they are in professions directly related to their field of study, while 17% said that they are in somewhat related fields.
The survey results show that the private sector was the biggest employer of Wits graduates (51%), followed by government (18%).
The top 10 employers of Wits graduates include the ‘big four auditors‘ (KPMP, Deloitte, EY & PWC) as well as banks such as FNB and Absa.