SA’s new graduates facing uphill battle: Daily Dispatch

Unemployment rising as economy tumbles

AS AN influx of new graduates enter the job market, the South African unemployment rate continues to soar while the economy spirals in the opposite direction. A look at the recently released data and survey by StatsSA on the labour force trends, reflects a bleak picture of the future.

The report, released early last week, shows that with an unemployment rate of 28.6% in the province, more and more job seekers are too discouraged to even look for employment.

When conducting the study, StatsSA differentiated between “unemployment” and “expanded unemployment”.

The South African Reserve Bank says only those who take active steps to find employment, but fail to do so, are regarded as unemployed.

“The expanded definition, on the other hand, includes everyone who desires employment, irrespective of whether or not they actively tried to obtain a job,” SARB explains.

Between the last quarter in 2015 and the first quarter this year, the Eastern Cape recorded the largest increase in expanded unemployment figures in the country at 4.2 percentage points, followed by North West at 4.1 percentage points.

The four Eastern Cape universities have just conferred more than 12 000 degrees in graduation ceremonies across their campuses.

Most of the graduates will be entering the job market for the first time and if the labour survey is anything to go by, the job hopefuls will be entering an already saturated market, full of discouraged job seekers.

Commenting on the employability of graduates, University of Fort Hare spokeswoman Zintle Filtane said the university’s responsibility towards students was primarily to ensure their employability from an academic and skills prospective.

“This is done by ensuring that academic standards and best practice is encouraged by lectures.

“The university has done its utmost best in preparing graduates with the necessary skills for the job market.

To aid their employment opportunities, the university also has a graduate placement programme where opportunities in the formal work environment are identified and made known to suitable candidates,” Filtane said.

Samkelo Makubalo, an unemployed graduate of Walter Sisulu University, said job hunting in the Eastern Cape was harder than at any other provinces. “It is very discouraging, especially when you keep on getting the nos or no response when you apply, as I have been unemployed for over a year,” said Makubalo.

The highest share of the employed population with tertiary qualifications was found among the white and Indian population groups.

The study also found that more than half of employed black African and coloured populations had an educational level of less than matric.

Discouraged job seekers in the Buffalo City Metro area have increased dramatically comparing to a year ago, from 2 000 to 31 000 in a year.

In the province the unemployment rate went up from 27.4% in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 28.6% in the first quarter of 2016.

The expanded unemployment rate now stands at 44.5%, up from 40.3% in the previous quarter.

Provincial cabinet economic cluster chairman, Mlibo Qoboshiyane said this was a worrying trend, and called on the private sector to come on board and create more jobs.

“What worries us more is that while government is playing its part, spending the economic development and job creation budgets, the private sector doesn’t seem committed to invest in the economy to create jobs,” he said.

Commenting on the figures, Democratic Alliance provincial legislature chief whip Bobby Stevenson said that the province needed to ensure value for money when it came to infrastructure spending and that wastage did not occur on travel, accommodation and meetings.

“The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro has consistently experienced the highest official unemployment rate of all the metros, going up again, from 30.6% in the previous quarter to 33.2% in January to March. Buffalo City is currently at 24.1%, up from 23.8% in the previous quarter,” he said.

Even though the Buffalo City Metro is up at 24.1% compared to the previous quarter, it has improved compared to the same period last year. During the first quarter of 2016 BCM recorded a 27.4% unemployment rate. — SIPHE MACANDA