WP 06/114 - Graduate Unemployment in the Face of Skill Shortages: A Labour Market Paradox


Kalie Pauw, Morne Oosthuizen and Carlene Van Der Westhuizen

Date of Publication: 
November 2006

There is consensus among analysts that South Africa’s unemployment is structural in the sense that the unemployed generally possess lower skills than what is required in the marketplace. In the context of increasing demand for skilled workers due to technical progress and the need to become more competitive globally, graduate unemployment would be expected to fall. This paper investigates the nature of graduate unemployment in South Africa since 1995, finding that labour force and employment growth has been concentrated in higher educational categories. However, against expectations unemployment has risen amongst young and better educated people. The paper suggests that the education sector urgently requires continued emphasis and monitoring to ensure that learners are adequately prepared for entry into the labour force; that greater efforts be made to encourage learners to choose directions of study with superior employment prospects; and that investment in young people’s soft skills is required.

Download Working Paper: DPRU WP 06/114