Buti Manamela remarks on Report: Employment Skills & Unemployment in South Africa 1994-2014

By sylviahammond, 15 September, 2014

My sincere regards to Statistics South Africa for this incisive and enlightening report that affects the youth and points out to the progress that has been made thus far.


I welcome the report and it is clearly pointing on the task ahead to reverse the plight especially of the Black African and Coloured youth. Whilst gains have been made in the area of job creation they are just not enough to tackle the challenge of joblessness, poverty and inequality.


The population in South Africa increased by 42% from 38 million in 1994 to 54 million in 2014. At the same time the number of people who were in employment increased from 9 million to 15 million. This was an increase of 66%. 


Generally the rate of employment creation during this period exceeded the rate of population growth. The biggest gain was amongst the Black African population where the number of jobs almost doubled. Of the 6 million jobs created, 5.3 million was amongst blacks. Viewed from this perspective the promise of democracy can be seen to have begun addressing the plight of particularly the Black Africans in particular. The Coloured population also made major gains in absolute numbers and had a proportionate share of their population by increasing by about 500 000. 


The Indians also grew by 46% and had a fair share of their general proportion in the population by growing by 157 000.


Whites had the lowest rate of change of only 8% and grew 162 000 which is less than their proportionate share of about 9% in the population. 


Whites obviously did not have any backlogs to deal with and it is thus not surprising that the growth in employment affected largely all those who are not white. From these perspective it can arguably be said that democracy has delivered better and generated jobs which otherwise were not available to the rest of the other population groups. But this is how far the story goes.


Across all age groups for the skilled employed population, amongst Indians the increase was 26%, amongst Whites the skilled increased by 19%, coloureds by 11% and Blacks had the lowest increase at 3%.


A closer look at the numbers especially amongst the Black African youth aged 20-34 tells a disturbing story. It suggests that there is a generation of Black Africans who through the period of twenty years lost out in acquiring skills whilst their White and Indian counterparts made major inroads in skills acquisition. Amongst Black Africans the skill decreased 3% whilst amongst White and Indians it grew well above 24%. 


The challenge appears to be generational and requires a long term view in its solution, however with immediate steps having to be taken to impact on reversing this scourge. One of the areas where focus has to be laid in order to influence future generations is at school level and changing the plight for those aged 7-19 currently in school.


In particular by ensuring that they are enabled and encouraged to actively take science and technology subjects. This should be the case especially amongst the Black population.


We should never tire in our endevour to make our schools work for the sake of the South African child, especially the black child.


Next month marks the 18 months since the signing of the Youth Employment Accord. The Accord proposed various interventions in creating employment, fighting inequalities and poverty and brimnging the more than 3.4 million young people actively involed in the economy. This is part of the many government plans and interventions to resolve this generational catastrophe.


I will be using these figures in the draft of the National Youth Policy 2015-2019 to ensure that we drive the whole of government, civil society and the private sector to invest our energies in bettering the lives of young people. The NYP 2015-2019 will be signed by Minister Radebe in March 2015 and will represent government's and South Africa's plan to respond to the needs, interests and aspirations of young people as expressed in this report.


South Africa can only work, if its youth are at work. Our ultimate responsibility is to give youth a hand-up; out of the cycle of poverty, drugs, alcohol and substance abuse, crime and other social ills.


Now, more than ever is the time to treat the youth development issue with the urgency it deserves, and together with young people, "WE SHALL TRIUMPH!


Thank You



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