In a context of significantly high unemployment, South African job-seekers often find themselves in competition with hundreds – sometimes thousands – of equally experienced and qualified professionals. However, recent statistics highlight that certain sectors have started to grow more notably, presenting greater opportunity for job creation.
This is according to Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions, who notes that the recent 0.6% improvement in the national unemployment rate to 26.5% – as released by Statistics South Africa in its Quarterly Labour Force Survey – is largely due to growth in employment in the services, transport and manufacturing industries.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to addressing the lack of opportunities in the current market place. However, it is only a small step and should be used to motivate and bolster further growth and create an environment which prioritises education and the development of skills for high-demand, fast-growing sectors,” she says.
Vittee refers to the survey’s emphasis on the role of education in labour market outcomes.
“Individuals who do not have a matric certificate are the most likely to struggle to find a job and make up the majority – 59% – of the country’s unemployed.
“While graduates are not guaranteed employment post-graduation, their likelihood of long-term unemployment is far less. With this in mind, it is important to communicate to job-seekers – and youth in particular – that the path to successful employment does not always take the form of a university degree in medicine or engineering.
“Ultimately, many of the sectors showing significant growth call for tradesmen. The development of these required skills should therefore be seen as an opportunity for the public and private sector, as well as job-seekers themselves, to take action,” she explains.
Vittee suggest increased public and private sector investment into the development of high-demand skills across the country through various technical institutions and apprenticeship programmes.
“It is also vital for job-seekers to educate themselves on how to better their chances of employment. With millions on the job-hunt, it is unrealistic to expect to be offered a job with little to no effort having been put into bettering yourself and ensuring you have what it takes to stand out and be great at what you do. In today’s world job-seekers need to be resilient in their efforts to achieve this. Such efforts may take the form of taking up a low-paying apprenticeship to gain knowledge and experience or working part-time while studying towards a qualification in a thriving field.
“It comes down to identifying what is needed in the market and pursuing the avenues required of you to develop the skills and knowledge in this regard,” she concludes.