Unemployed men fill in job applications. File Picture: Paul Sancya/AP

Cape Town - The Western Cape has seen the biggest spike in unemployment since the start of the year, Statistics SA announced in its second Quarterly Labour Force Survey.

Although it still has one of the lowest unemployment figures in the country, the province has seen an increase in unemployed people aged 15- 64. Nationally, unemployment figures saw an increase of 0.3 percent since the start of the year.

The Western Cape follows the Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, which has seen the biggest increases in unemployment since January.

The unemployment rate in South Africa has risen to 25.5 percent – the worst rate since the first labour force survey in 2008. The increase brings the number of unemployed people up to about 5.2 million.

Figures from the survey show that nationally, the rise in unemployment was greatest among the coloured and white populations, increasing by 1.8 percent and 1.5 percent respectively.

In terms of the expanded unemployment rate, which also includes people not actively seeking work, the figure reached 35.6 percent in the second quarter. The number of discouraged job seekers was down from 2 425 000 to 2 419 000.

Labour lawyer Michael Bagraim, who was previously the chairman of the human resources portfolio at the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce, said the government was to blame for the increase in unemployment figures.

Bagraim is also the DA deputy spokesman for labour.

Despite making public that job creation was at the top of its agenda, Bagraim said the government had failed to play its part.

“Seeing an increase in the unemployment rate is very bad news for South Africa. What’s worse is that the manufacturing industry has seen such a decrease in job offers,” Bagraim said. Between January and last month, the manufacturing industry had seen a decrease of 41 000 jobs.

That the Western Cape was still at the forefront of employment, was no surprise, Bagraim added.

“Provincial government has spearheaded the youth employment programmes and the Red Tape Challenge.”

The Red Tape Challenge identifies and encourages businesses, business associations, the government and other stakeholders to cut the “red tape” when it came to smaller businesses. Bagraim said the safety and security of small businesses was key in ensuring a thriving economy.

Managing director at job recruitment agency Key Recruitment Group Allan Pike said his company had received more than 1 000 CVs from students and graduates in a month. “Competition is fierce. You will get 50 people vying for the same position in the workplace.”

The Cape Times spoke to three unemployed Capetonians:

Nqaba Mbembe, 22

Qualification: Matric

Unemployed: Seven months

“Over the last seven months, I feel I have been a burden to my mother. She raised my brother and me, all by herself. It’s tough because I can’t contribute to the household.

“I have done odd jobs but finding permanent work or work with good pay is tough. I can’t get a job because I have no experience. But how am I supposed to get experience without getting a job? I can’t even count how many places I have on my CV: the airport, security agencies, at cash and carrys. Nowhere are people willing to hire me. I went to Simunye High School in Delft South. In my matric year, I did not apply to study further because I had failed my June exam. I thought I would not get accepted into any university. But in December I was happy to see that I had passed. I have applied to study HR. I heard there are many jobs in HR. I was also planning to work and save money to pay for my studies. I am trying to find out whether I am eligible for a loan.

“I also applied to join the army but was unsuccessful.”

Colleen van Schalkwyk, 39

Qualification: Bookkeeping diploma

Unemployed: Eight months

“These days one has to compete against hundreds of people who have exactly the same qualification and work experience as you do. Gone are the days when having the diploma or certificate was all that mattered.

“I have been unemployed for eight months now. For four years I have been working on a contractual basis.

“With three children to take care of, my husband and I are in over our heads with debt. It is very, very stressful to think about where the money is going to come from. My husband has a steady job, but his income does not suffice. It is so difficult trying to find a job. It has come to the point where I have handed in my CV at my local 7-Eleven and other stores. Even there they told me they were not hiring.

“We have had to sell our TV, and even our house. At my last permanent job, I saw things happening that were not exactly ‘above board’. I walked out of there and resigned the next day. One thing I will never do is compromise my reputation for a paycheck.”

Brent Manasse, 23

Qualification: BSc in sports science

Unemployed: Two years

“I graduated in 2012 from the University of the Western Cape. I have looked in the newspaper, online and I even joined a recruitment agency – all in the hopes of finding a job. But the problem with the agency is that they have so many recruits, it is impossible for them to focus all their attention on finding one individual a job.

“What getting rejected does to your self-confidence is unexplainable. After a while you start to doubt yourself. Many times I have asked myself: am I too young?; why am I not what they are looking for?

“Unless you have been unemployed for as long as I have, you will never understand the stress and anxiety it causes.

“But I am passionate about my chosen profession and I will never give up – I can’t. I have a two-year-old child’s future to think about. I want to give my child the best life that I can. I have given my CV to places I know I am over-qualified to work at. I still live at home with my parents.”

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Cape Times