Unemployment is one of the biggest challenges facing South Africa. Growth has been inadequate, the skills level requirement of new jobs is continually rising, current skills among the workforce are low and inadequate numbers of low end, unskilled jobs are being created. Finding mechanisms to address this challenge is a key to South Africa’s economic success and the social cohesion of communities. This task demands a combination of macro and microeconomic strategies and falls outside the ambit of this project.
However, with over 500,000 unemployed people applying for placement in a job or for assistance with unemployment insurance through the Department of Labour, and tens of thousands more who are not eligible turning to private and non-governmental organisation (NGO) operators to assist them find work, there is an important role for employment intermediation services in South Africa. Most of those approaching the Department of Labour and the private and NGO operators reviewed in this report are unskilled or semi-skilled workers servicing the lower skills end of the labour market.
There is, in most countries, a mismatch between the demand for workers and the supply of job seekers. The causes of this vary from country to country and include: limited information and dissemination on job openings, mismatches between the skills of workers and the demand of employers, the increased mobility of labour, changes in the nature of work, a demand for more frequent upgrading of skills, poor job hunting skills by workers, labour market discrimination, and barriers to access, such as geographic location and the high costs of transport. This can contribute and exacerbate unemployment, as well as long term unemployment of certain groups of people, and/or underemployment.