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SA Unemployment At A Record High But All Is Not Lost

  • 3 min read

The recently released Quarterly Labour Force Survey by Statistics South Africa, revealed that the country’s official unemployment rate increased by 7.5% during Q3 2020, to a record high of 30.8%. Furthermore, under the expanded definition of unemployment, which comprises those without jobs along with others who have given up on finding employment, the true rate is a staggering 43.1%. As such, measures must be set in place by the Government to reduce the unemployment rate in 2021 to improve the economy and livelihoods of almost 50% of the population in need of jobs. 

This is according to Nora Dawud, CEO and founder of Black Pen Recruitment and Immigration who says that it is important to consider that the true rate of unemployment in the country may be far greater than the official numbers reveal as Statistic South Africa’s sample size was limited due to Covid-19. “The reality is that unemployment levels in South Africa have long since reached crisis levels pre-pandemic and the national lockdown which resulted in furloughs and retrenchments only exacerbated the matter. Sadly certain sectors within the economy are yet to fully recover from the economic shock, and continued to shed jobs in Q3.”

Fortunately, all is not lost, as the de-escalation to level one of the government’s Covid-19 risk-adjusted strategy since the beginning of October, and further easing of lockdown regulations has started to breathe life back into the economy with employment in many sectors increasing. 

We can find further solace in the fact that South Africa remains an increasingly attractive destination for international businesses, points out Dawud. “For example, the relative skills vacuum among the local labour force and its young median population age presents various prospective upskilling opportunities, fertile soil for multi-nationals considering viable markets to expand into. Furthermore, as an emerging economy, the costs of labour in the country are more competitive than its European or North American counterparts. South Africa remains ‘the rainbow nation’, a young and diverse country with huge growth potential that could be unlocked by the right actors.” 

However, she says that to solidify the country as a viable investment landscape for multinational companies, such as Amazon, it is vital for the local Government to implement tax incentives, offer early funding options and reduce red tape through easier legal requirements. 

To assist the many job seekers in the country to prepare themselves for the opportunities that may arise in 2021, Dawud gives the following pointers: 

  • Don’t take jobs out of desperation as you will not perform well and it will discourage you.
  • Use your downtime to further your education with free online courses if you want to change direction – especially if you come from a Covid-impacted industry such as tourism.  
  • When seeking new job opportunities, consider using a recruitment agency and their free service to place candidates. 

In closing Dawud refers to the following words uttered by the Republic’s former president, Thabo Mbeki who said, “We are not being arrogant or complacent when we say that our country, as a united nation, has never in its entire history, enjoyed such a confluence of encouraging possibilities”.

“I believe these words best capture the essence of hope ingrained in the South African spirit and desire for a better tomorrow, and that we must remain positive that there will be an uptick in opportunities in the upcoming months,” Dawud concludes. 

By Nora Dawud, CEO and founder at Black Pen Recruitment and Immigration Specialists