A quarter of SA’s unemployed have been looking for work for more than five years. A further 40% have been out of work for at least a year. That’s according to the latest South Africa Survey, published by the South African Institute of Race Relations.
SA has 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.
In addition, there are 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.
The International Labour Organisation defines the long-term unemployed as those who have been looking for work for more than a year.
The average long term unemployment level among Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries is 32%.
In South Africa, this figure is 68%, with 3 million people who have been looking for work for more than a year.
“On top of this, very long-term unemployment of over five years accounts for a significant number of our unemployed.
Unemployed become unemployable
“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 unskilled workers but in need of experienced and skilled labour.”
“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 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.”