Hundreds of job-seekers face an unemployment crisis that is expected to worsen in the third quarter as more companies have issued section 189 retrenchment notices to employees, according to labour federation Cosatu.
The rise in unemployment is expected to continue until 2018 with graduates most affected.

This is according to Professor Carel van Aardt, a researcher at the Bureau of Market Research, (BMR) at Unisa.

His prediction follows Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) which showed another increase in the unemployment rate which was at 27.7% from the 26.5% in the last quarter.

The increase marked the highest unemployment rate in the past 14 years.

QLFS is a household-based labour sample survey conducted quarterly. It collects data on the labour-market activities of individuals aged 15 and above.

Van Aardt said BMR conducted research to predict economic trends for 2017 and 2018.

“It appears from this analysis that economic growth rates will be below 1% in 2017 and 2018, while the elasticity rate between GDP and employment growth will weaken further to 0.3%. As a result the number of unemployed will grow more than a million between 2016 and 2018,” he said.

Van Aardt said this would result in increased unemployment among graduates as well. The absorption rate of new graduates and economically inactive graduates returning to the labour market was on the decline.

Personal skills

This gave rise to increased levels of graduate unemployment during 2017 and 2018.

He said a lot needed to be done to stop the escalating unemployment rate.

“Including decolonising higher education to make it more South African-relevant, we need to focus strongly on personal skills,” he added.

Van Aardt said the country needed to revisit how graduates were trained.

“It is time to ensure that graduates are trained to become entrepreneurs, rather than employees."

“This can be achieved by ensuring that the content of education becomes more labour market-relevant and there is a match between demand and supply of graduates."

“We need to produce more graduates for the scarce skills or special field industry.” He added that current statistics would have a direct impact on students."

“The economy is growing at a much slower pace than between 2002 and 2007, creating fewer jobs and facing much more demand-supply interaction challenges. Students should ensure that their education conforms to scarce skills or consider becoming entrepreneurs,” he said.