Cape Town - A quarter of unemployed people have been looking
for work for more than five years, and a further 40% have been out of work for
at least a year according to a survey by the South African Institute of Race
According to data from Statistics South Africa, there are a
total of 4.5 million people classified as officially unemployed, because they
are available and would like to work and have been actively looking for a job.
The International Labour Organisation defines the long-term
unemployed as those who have been looking for work for more than a year.
In South Africa, there are 3 million such people (or 68% of
the unemployed). However, the Institute has calculated that nearly half of
these people have been unemployed for more than five years, equating to 26% of
all unemployed people.
Lucy Holborn, research manager at the SAIRR, said, "We
have very high long-term unemployment levels according to the international
definition – the average among Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) countries is 32% of total unemployment compared to 68% in
South Africa. On top of this, very long-term unemployment of over five years
accounts for a significant number of our unemployed.
The chances of finding work after being out of the workplace
for more than five years (or perhaps having never worked) are likely to be slim
in a labour market saturated with low- and un-skilled workers but in need of
experienced and skilled labour."
In addition, these figures do not take into account those
who would like to work but have given up actively looking for work, perhaps
because they have given up hope of finding a job.
There are an additional 3.2 million people who are
unemployed according to the expanded definition, which includes people not
actively looking for work.
"Many such people are likely to add to the number of
long-term unemployed, as they are more likely to have lost hope of finding a
job after having been unemployed for a long period of time," said Holborn.
"All of this suggests that there may be large numbers
of people who are simply unemployable. Therefore, any solution to our
unemployment problem will need to address educational and skills inadequacies
to provide a better match between what the labour market requires and the pool
of people supplying it. In the meantime, relaxing labour regulation in order to
reduce the cost and risk of hiring people could help to dent levels of
unemployment that have been persistently high for over ten years," said
The government has pushed a major development plan to slash
unemployment to 15% from 25% over seven years, but economic growth remains far
below the levels needed to reduce the problem.
Economic Development Deputy Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize
reportedly told a newspaper that SA would likely miss its target of creating
five million jobs by 2020, given labour strife and strained relations between
the government and private firms.
Meanwhile Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande lamented
the prospects for black graduates leaving University, saying they had more
difficulty in finding jobs than their white counterparts.
"Most black youngsters do not have the family and other
connections into the labour market that are generally enjoyed by whites and the
few, more affluent blacks," Nzimande said.
He said historical inequality and poverty determined access
to education and the ability to achieve academically.
According to Stats SA formal employment in South Africa
increased 0.1% in the third quarter of 2012, adding 10 000 people to the
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