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South Africa’s economy last month shed 33,202 jobs with employment declining by -2.1% in March when compared to a year ago. The latest research by local staffing firm Adcorp found that mainly permanent, full-time workers suffered from the job losses.
The retail and wholesale trade and manufacturing sectors were most affected by the downturn. The two sectors lost 9,000 and 8,000 jobs respectively.
The research also reveals that, for the first time in 15 years, South Africa’s economy shed 12,000 high-skilled jobs during March alone, alongside 16,000 low-skilled jobs. But government employment remained strong, with 4,000 jobs created during March. The informal sector created 6,610 jobs during the month.
“These perturbing job numbers cut right across the employment sector and are coupled with worrying trends in terms of both unfilled vacancies for skilled people in South Africa’s private sector (829,000 in 2012) and unemployed graduates which have now topped at 580,000,” said labour market economist at Adcorp, Loane Sharp.
“There is no interface between our tertiary education and training system and the nature and composition of the country’s skills shortages. We can only ask what has become of the various national skills development programmes that were devised in the mid-1990s, with the National Skills Development Framework being one of the keystone initiatives.”
Adcorp urged the government to boost jobs and economic growth while labour regulations should be relaxed. “Our modelling suggests that, at an economic growth rate of 4%, the South African economy will absorb all new entrants into the labour market each year; and at an economic growth rate of 8%, the economy will reduce official unemployment to single digits by 2017.
“With a targeted relaxation of labour laws – related simply to dismissal protections and collective bargaining – all those who are willing to work will find it in the formal sector.”