THE BLOG
05/06/2018 06:08 SAST | Updated 05/06/2018 06:08 SAST

South Africa's Unemployment Rate Has A Direct Link To Poverty

'By now it should be clear that looking and waiting on the government for services and provision does not work.'

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South African unemployment is an outcome of inequality and a socioeconomic nonconducive environment

Review on South African unemployment rates

Unemployment is not exclusively a South African problem, but rather a global threatening issue. South Africa's unemployment rate has, however, been ranked as the worst in the world in a new global competitiveness report. It is rated number 9 of the world's 20 unemployed rated countries, and the unemployment rate for women sits at 29 percent and 24.8 percent for men.

According to the International Labour Organisation, South Africa ranks as the 9th worst country for employment in the world but is the lowest-ranked country with a mature and developed economy. Taking population numbers into account, South Africa is the only high population country in the bottom 10, with a population of 55 million people. According to Statistics South Africa (Q4:2017), the average rate of unemployment in South Africa is 26.7 percent, with the Eastern Cape having the highest unemployment rates Statistics South Africa Q1:2017 (as shown in the figure below).

Unemployment rates by province

StatsSA Q1: 2017

Labour market challenge and education

Young people are surely the most affected group by this phenomenon. For decades, the concept that 'education is the only way out of poverty' has been instilled into the minds of youth. However, by now that statement has little or no meaning.

Graduates experience an unending cycle of job hunting. Those who are fortunate enough jump from one internship to another, which pay low stipends - not enough to feed their hungry families or even build proper houses for their impoverished parents. While a reasonable number of graduates remain stressed and unemployed in cities, townships and villages all around South Africa.

Printing and posting CV's is their daily life while nothing seems to come out of it. After completing their qualifications, some proceed to study in other fields such as pursuing a post-graduate certificate in education (PGCE), nursing or studying to enter the police service. Consequently, these other careers have over time become difficult to access as the number of applicants increase annually and fewer positions are available.

Others opt for low paying jobs such as waiting in restaurants, being fuel attendants in gas stations or working in retail shops etc. Although the government assured open opportunities and a better education for all, black people in South Africa still suffer from exclusion in the labour market.

The former privileged schools and universities still have an impact on the absorption of graduates by the labour market. The shortage of skills versus the labour market and the fact that some graduates are qualified but not yet ready for the labour market are some of the contributing factors to the high unemployment rate in South Africa.

And even though the government is meant to help them, they are very ones cheating these startups of out growth opportunities because the South African government is highly corrupt.

Lack of conducive socioeconomic environment

It cannot be ignored that there are many motivated and hardworking young people who begin businesses and struggle with growth. Instead of waiting to be taught to fish some are motivated to be independent and fish for themselves. This can be a challenge, however, when one has no access to the fishing material. This is the case for many black South Africans who decide to venture into business.

Black youths start from scratch with nothing and yet in the business world, they are expected to compete with the rest, who are often more advanced competitors.

By now it should be clear that looking and waiting on the government for services and provision does not work. Small businesses are said to be amongst the remedies for the accelerating employment rates in South Africa. This is problematic however as even though the government is meant to help them, corruption and cronyism mean these new businesses are being cheated out of growth opportunities.

It is unfortunate that to be funded one must be "well connected" or to bribe their way to up. Where does that put the hard working nobody's?