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Fourth Industrial Revolution brings own labour market challenges – cautions Department of Labour Job Opportunities and Unemployment report

by lloyd last modified 2018-11-08 13:46


The Department of Labour report titled: “Job Opportunities and Unemployment in the South African Labour Market report”, puts together job vacancy advertised data, e.g., skills required by various industries and the skills profile of the unemployed to examine the prospect of matching skills to available job opportunities in the financial year 2017/18.

“Overall, 36 per cent of the total job vacancies advertised in 2017/18 required people with less than grade 12, degree or diploma educational achievements. This implies that there is a shift to a more educated labour force leading to an increasing share of high-skilled jobs in the economy,” said the report.

The impact in the South African labour market is that those with less than grade 12 educational achievements (Matric) will probably remain unemployed in the long-run as it is also noted that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR) will also bring its own labour market challenges, e.g., demand for new skills.

In fact, the South African active labour market policies should reflect and come to terms with the fact that the world of work is changing and align their employment creation policies and strategies with business objectives. The report has suggested that education institutions must perhaps redesign a curriculum that encourages critical thinking, creativity as well fast-track the acquisition of digital and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics skills to match the way people will work and collaborate when the FIR is fully there.

Furthermore, the report has shown that there were 661 432 ordinary Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims created in 2017/18. The trade industry (44.8%) followed by agriculture (10.5%), manufacturing (10.5%) and construction (9.2%) industries constituted approximately 75 per cent of the total ordinary UI claims created in 2017/18 financial year as a result of dismissals or retrenchments etc.

On the other hand, out of the total 817 239 registered work-seekers in the Department of Labour in 2017/18, the Gauteng province had registered the highest at 24.2 per cent and the lowest was in the Northern Cape Province at 3.2 per cent. While the overall placement rate stood at 6.5 % (or 53 601), the provincial placement rates varied over time. In this regard, the Public Employment Services (PES) branch in the Department of Labour has played a critical role by assisting work-seekers to obtain jobs and employers to fill their vacancies.

In terms of advertising of job opportunities, the report said the community industry advertised more than one third (31.8% or 15 366) as compared to other industries. By province, the highest number of job vacancies advertised was in Gauteng at 21 755 (45%), followed by the Western Cape at 7 650 (14%) and the Eastern Cape at 6 350 (13.1%). The report cautioned that the job opportunities were still limited and not sufficient to absorb a large number of new entrants in the labour market which explains partially the unemployment rate in the country.

The Job Opportunities and Unemployment in the South African Labour Market report recommends that:

·          Policy makers need to act now to introduce reforms that will shift the economic focus by preparing for the changes that automation and other technological developments will probably bring;

·          Encourage establishment of small business growth and entrepreneurial opportunities; Policy makers should consider investment that drives jobs like encouraging the establishment of new business through entrepreneurship;

·          Reform in South Africa’s education system may possibly provide the only sustainable solution. It is important to reduce the number of poorly educated people by improving school resources and quality of education.




Issued by:

Teboho Thejane

Departmental Spokesperson

082 697 0694

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