This paper investigates the relationship between education and unemployment in post-apartheid South Africa, and probes the argument that employment growth has been inhibited particularly by skills constraints. We use probit regression analysis to show that higher education protected against unemployment in both 1995 and 2003, and that overall, the relative benefits to tertiary education rose over the period. We show also that these aggregate trends mask substantial variation among race groups and within race groups, among men and women. However, after taking into account changes in the survey instruments used to measure employment, we find only modest evidence of skills-intensive employment growth. Rather, the increase in formally qualified labour was considerably larger than the increase in demand for skilled and semi-skilled labour over the period, and so unemployment rates even among graduates increased over the period.