South Africa’s unemployment rate has remained at 27.7% for the second quarter of 2017. This is an increase compared to the second quarter of last year’s unemployment rate of 26.6%. This is also the highest unemployment rate South Africa has seen since the all-time high of 31.20% in the first quarter of 2003.

The unemployment rate is a measurement of the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force (people who are able to work). The expanded definition of unemployment includes people who have stopped looking for work. South Africa’s expanded unemployment rate has risen 0.2% from last quarter, reaching 36.6%, according to Trading Economics.

Stats SA released a report on 7 August 2017 which shows that South Africa still has a long way to go in terms of transformation, especially regarding race and sex. Out of the black labour force in South Africa, only 68,7% of people are employed. This number is almost 30% lower than the employment of South Africans in the white labour force, which sits at 94,3%. This is highly problematic as the white population only makes up 8% of the South African population, while the black population is 80.8%. Out of the Indian/Asian labour force, the employment rate sits at 86,8% and number of people employed in the coloured labour force is 76,43%.

Another Stats SA report published on 21 August 2017 discussing the issue of gender in the work force said that while women make up 51% of South Africa’s population they remain “relatively underrepresented in positions of authority and power.” The labour data released for the second quarter of 2017 confirms that out of all employed people, only 44% are women. Stats SA says “women fill 44% of skilled posts, which includes managers, professionals and technicians.” This figure is the same as in September 2002. There is only one female CEO in the top 40 Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed companies. However, the number of women in parliament has increased, with 40% of chairs held by women, ranking South Africa tenth in the world for most female members in parliament.

With unemployment at a high and an ever-fluctuating economy, it is important for students to know how the University of Pretoria helps students after they graduate. UP has an alumni careers portal and Career Services Unit. While Career Services Unit helps students prepare for life after graduation, the alumni career portal helps graduates find jobs. According to the UP alumni webpage, this portal “offers you a number of different job opportunities in the market in one place so that you don’t need to consult many different websites, newspapers and agencies.” Another benefit of this portal is that there is no cost to register. UP also offer a TuksAlumni Pretoria East (TAPE) mentorship programme. This mentorship programme helps new graduates and alumni, who do not necessarily have experience or are battling find employment, to do so.

Trading Economics has noted that while the second quarter has seen employment increases in sectors such as trade, finance, and utilities, there have been decreases in construction and agriculture. According to Business Tech, jobs for financial professionals have been increasing as of March 2017. This is reflected in the increased employment rate in finance. Jobs for financial professionals include cost and management accountancy, financial analogy, and internal auditing. The average salary based on intermediate level positions for these jobs range from R30 000 – R50 000 per month. Business Tech also noted that employment prospects are evident within the field of management, especially financial management. In March 2017, 22% of managerial job listings were for financial managers. Additionally, the demand for sales representatives has grown during 2017, however, this field is extremely competitive. In this technological era, software development remains the most sought-after skill with over 27% of job postings seeking this.

Illustration: Michelle Hartzenberg

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