05/06/2014. Kabelo Malatsi has stopped looking a job and now washes cars in Sunnyside, Pretoria. He is one of the growing number of unemployed and unskilled young people in the country. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

Johannesburg -

It is harder for young women to get into the workplace despite having the same skills and education levels as their male counterparts.

This is according to Statistics South Africa’s first quarter youth and labour market data.

Statistician-General Pali Lehohla said: “What do you need to get a job? You need to be a male, with tertiary education and experience in short term employment. This creates better prospects. Young women are particularly vulnerable in the South African labour market. If you locate those females without jobs, they are in households with high population numbers. This is a melting pot in the reproduction of poverty.

“It might be that some of the discriminatory practices are still used. Discrimination that young women get pregnant and government gives them four months of leave. This discrimination, which is against our constitution, is used sometimes (against) females who might even have better tertiary education than males.”

According to the data which looked at unemployment in the 15 to 34-year age group from the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2014, 33.4 percent of young men are out of jobs as compared to 39.5 percent of young women. The youth unemployment rate is currently at 36.1 percent.

Commission for Gender Equality spokesman Javu Baloyi said discrimination was a big issue in the workplace. “We receive a lot of complaints from women who cannot get into jobs because of their gender. But even if they do get the jobs, the conditions are very hostile.

“We cannot deny that women are mothers and caregivers, so workplaces must be geared to deal with that. A survey we did found recreational facilities at workplaces lessened the burden on women and they performed at their peak and sometimes better than men.”

The young people that are getting jobs are in low and semi-skilled sectors, a factor linked to their education levels.

Low-skilled work includes domestic work and semi-skilled includes clerks and machine operators. In the 15 to 24 age group, 50.4 percent have below matric qualifications, while in the 25 to 34 age group, the figure is 55.8 percent.

Forty-one percent of young people with jobs are in low-skilled posts, 47.2 percent are semi-skilled and only 11.8 percent are in high-skilled occupations like managers and technicians. Young people also earn low wages at the end of the month.

In 2013, 45.1 percent of the youth earned R2 500 or less a month. Lehohla said: “We see an increase of young people with tertiary education taking up EPWP (Expanded Public Works Programme) jobs. In 2011 it was about 7 percent and about 10 percent in 2013. We cannot say that what drives them there is desperation.”

EPWP is a short-term work initiative by the Department of Public Works that offers jobs in infrastructure and environment development among other sectors.

He warned that if there were no interventions to ensure that young people were skilled, the employment rate would not improve. “We have to invest early in education - and in the appropriate education. Otherwise, we will have a bulk of the population without work. We have to invest in skills and apartheid did not do that.

“The skills we are building now are not generating a population that can work. Acquiring skills should be done in the 15 to 24 age group and that is not happening. The education system needs to produce more artisans,” Lehola


Unemployment numbers

- Skilled employment makes up only 20 percent of youth employment.

- Young people are more likely to be employed in the informal sector. In the Eastern Cape, 27.3 percent of young people are employed in the informal sector. The adult figure is 18.9 percent.

- Black and coloured youth have the highest rate of unemployment at 39.4 percent and 35.3 percent, respectively.

- Limpopo and the North West have the highest rate of discouraged work seekers at 12 percent. The Western Cape has the lowest at 0.8 percent.

- In every province youth are more likely to be on contract of limited duration than adults. In Gauteng 14.2 percent of the youth are on short-term contract as compared to 5.8% adults.

- This year, 63.5 percent of people aged between 20 and 24 years are in long-term unemployment.

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