Matric pupils write exams. File picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency Archives (ANA)
Pretoria - Employers today are on the lookout for skilled job candidates, and new matriculants will struggle to find employment.

This is according to Stanford Mazhindu, spokesperson for trade union Uasa. “School-leavers are competing with more than 3 million unemployed youths between the ages of 18 and 24 to find work and generate an income,” he said.

The employment numbers for the third quarter of 2018 from Statistics SA show the working-age population has increased by 153000, or 0.4%, compared to the second quarter of 2018.

The number of employed rose by 92000 to 16.4 million; the number of unemployed by 127000 to 6.2 million. The absorption rate of job seekers into the economy remained unchanged at 43.1%. The unemployment rate increased by 0.3 of a percentage point to 27.5%.

“Against the background of these numbers, I cannot over-emphasise the importance of education. I talk to employers all the time, and the message is clear. Employers are looking for skilled people, and a straight matric qualification provides school-leavers with limited skills,” Mazhindu said.

“Matric is simply not enough to qualify our young people for the labour market any longer; they are viewed as semi-skilled.

“Matric only gives you a broad theoretical background, but it doesn't prepare you to perform specific tasks in the economy. A person who left school with a Grade 10 qualification and added three years of practical training as a plumber, a mechanic or a hairdresser seems to have a far better chance of finding a job.”

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