Jobs in SA: These are the professions in demand, and education levels you need

Your level of education and the career path you choose will impact your chances of being employed. Picture: Monstera Production/Pexels

Your level of education and the career path you choose will impact your chances of being employed. Picture: Monstera Production/Pexels

Published Nov 15, 2023


If you have graduated with a higher education qualification, particularly a degree, you have a far greater chance of finding a job in South Africa.

In fact, the latest employment statistics show that 8.5 percent of these graduates were unemployed during July to September (Q3) this year, while 38.8 percent of those without a matric qualification did not have jobs.

Stats SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for Q3 2023 also reveals that 33 percent of matriculants and 21 percent of people with other tertiary qualifications are unemployed.

Interestingly, in Q3 (April to June), South Africans who did not finish matric or had lower-level tertiary qualifications saw higher levels of employment compared to the previous quarter; those with matric certificates and higher education qualifications reported decreased levels of employment. Even more concerning is that, compared to a year ago, employment has declined across all education levels.

In addition, the survey results show that some young people have not only been disengaged from the labour market but are not building their skills through education and training.

Youth unemployment still high in South Africa

Of the approximately 10,2 million young people aged 15 to 24 in South Africa in Q3, Stats SA says 32.7 percent were not in employment, education or training (NEET). This figure is 1.8 percent lower than the previous quarter, with the NEET rate dropping by 1.3 percent for males and 2.3 percent for females.

The NEET rate for females was higher than that of their male counterparts in both 2022 and 2023.

Despite the quarter-on-quarter decline, the QLFS states that youth in the 15 to 24 and 25 to 34 age brackets continue to have the highest unemployment rates, both of which are higher than the national unemployment rate of 31.9 percent.

Unemployment rates by age group:

– 15 to 24: 58 percent

– 25 to 34: 38.3 percent

– 35 to 44: 29 percent

– 45 to 54: 19.8 percent

– 55 to 64: 10.9 percent

Jobs with the most, and least, number of job losses

Seven out of the 10 occupational categories experienced employment gains in Q3 2023 compared to Q2 2023 (quarter-on-quarter) and Q3 2022 (year-on-year):

– Managers

  • Quarter-on-quarter: 4.2 percent decrease (-49,000 jobs)
  • Year-on-year: 25.3 percent decrease (-374,000 jobs)

– Professionals

  • Quarter-on-quarter: 3.7 percent increase (+92,000 jobs)
  • Year-on-year: 29.1 percent increase (+305,000 jobs)

– Technicians

  • Quarter-on-quarter: 1.9 percent decrease (-28,000 losses)
  • Year-on-year: 6.2 percent decrease (-96,000 losses)

– Clerks

  • Quarter-on-quarter: 1,7 percent increase (+32,000 jobs)
  • Year-on-year: 19.3 percent increase (+305,000 jobs)

– Sales and services

  • Quarter-on-quarter: 4.6 percent increase (+129,000 jobs)
  • Year-on-year: 12.8 percent increase (+336,000 jobs)

– Skilled agriculture

  • Quarter-on-quarter: 49.8 percent increase (+25,000 jobs)
  • Year-on-year: 1.9 percent increase (+1,000 jobs)

– Craft and related trades

  • Quarter-on-quarter: 5.2 percent increase (+84,000 jobs)
  • Year-on-year: 3.2 percent increase (+53,000 jobs)

– Plant and machine operators

  • Quarter-on-quarter: 11.5 percent increase (+145,000 jobs)
  • Year-on-year: 11.8 percent increase (+149,000 jobs)

– Elementary (unskilled labour)

  • Quarter-on-quarter: 1.2 percent decrease (-48,000 jobs)
  • Year-on-year: 7.1 percent increase (+262,000 jobs)

– Domestic worker

  • Quarter-on-quarter: 1.8 percent increase (+16,000 jobs)
  • Year-on-year: 4.1 percent increase (+34,000 jobs)

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