South Africa’s largest employment services group, Adcorp Holdings, has warned that despite the latest unemployment figures showing joblessness had remained steady at 29.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019, the number of people without work was likely to rise.

A key impediment to tackling unemployment was the lack of skills among South African work seekers, Adcorp said in a statement.

Cheryl-Jane Kujenga, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Adcorp Holdings, said that ‘while it was some comfort that unemployment did not get worse in the last quarter of last year, unemployment remained at its highest levels in 12 years and that the growing joblessness trend was still firmly intact’.

Kujenga singled out the skills gap – and the lack of policies aimed at addressing it – as ‘the most pressing issue as it is a key driver of unemployment’.

She added: ‘We, as Adcorp, continue to advertise jobs we can’t fill because of skills mismatches. We need those with finance skills as well as ICT specialists – namely software developers, network technicians and project managers, as well as artisans like boilermakers and welders.

‘If you look at the education levels of unemployed persons in the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey report, 6.7 million unemployed persons (55,9% of the total unemployed) had education levels below matric. Even entry level jobs almost always require a matric.’

Kujenga noted that ‘even though the economy was officially not in recession, the hiring conditions are the same as if we were already in recession’.

‘With many businesses hesitant to hire because of ongoing economic policy uncertainty and a lack of coherent strategy to address unemployment, the jobs impasse is likely to persist.’

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