New research finds that only 43% of all South Africans aged 15 to 64 are working, while as many as 59% have either no education at all, or have an incomplete secondary education.
Solidarity Research Institute has published its South African Labour market report, which puts broad unemployment at 35.8%, while the official unemployment rate is 25.4%.
StatsSA is expected to publish unemployment figures for the fourth quarter of 2014 on Tuesday (10 February).
Senior researcher, Paul Joubert said that the South African labour market is plagued by high unemployment. More than a third of all people who want to work, cannot find work.
He said that the equivalent rate for the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is about 65%.
For South Africa to attain this level, another eight million people would have to start working, Solidarity said.
“What is more, only about 31% of all adults in South Africa are employed in the formal sector – the other 12% that have jobs, work in the informal sector or as domestic workers, gardeners or farm workers,” Joubert said.
Solidarity stressed that 35.5 million people that are officially of “working age” comprise
only two-thirds of the total population, because South Africa’s population is relatively young.
Of the 35.5 million, only 15.1 million have any kind of job – which is how the employment rate of 43% is determined.
“However, that does not mean that the remaining 57% of people of working age are all unemployed,” Joubert said.
“People can only be unemployed if they wish to work. If someone chooses not to work, it is not a problem for them if they do not have work. For instance, it surely is not a problem that 6.3 million students do not have jobs. The real problem lies with the 8.4 million people who would like to work but cannot find a job.”
Of the 8.4 million, 3.3 million are no longer actively looking for a job, because they have lost all hope of finding employment, Solidarity said.
The research said that an important reason for this state of affairs is that the growth areas of the South African economy are mostly sectors in which an employee must have some academic or technical education after school level to be successful.
The combined tertiary sector of the economy accounts for about 70% of the value generated annually in the country.
The report noted that only 13% of the adult South African population have any tertiary education, while only an additional 28% have a matric certificate.
“Although these percentages are growing steadily, it is clear that there is still a large imbalance between the type of employees that the growth sectors of the economy need and the nature of the potential employees that are available,” it said.
Solidarity said that a perception does exist that there is an unusually high number of
unemployed graduates in South Africa. This notion has often been expressed in the public discourse over the past few years by people such as Jimmy Manyi and even President Jacob Zuma.
However, Joubert dispels the myth of graduate unemployment in South Africa, concluding that in South Africa only about a 100,000 graduates out of two million are unemployed at any given stage.