Graduate unemployment in South Africa: A much exaggerated problem
AbstractIncreasing reference in the media and public discussions to high and rising levels of graduate unemployment in the South African labour market has raised concern about the functionality of South Africa’s higher education system and the employability of the graduates that it produces. While such references are generally premised on the findings of a handful of published research studies that have made reference to rising graduate unemployment, the results of those studies are subject to a number of criticisms, ranging from inadequate definitions of “graduates” to the use of incomplete, dated, or unrepresentative data. This paper reviews the existing evidence on graduate unemployment in South Africa and analyses levels of, and trends in, graduate unemployment in the country since 1995. To overcome the deficiencies of previous studies, “graduates” are explicitly defined as individuals with bachelor’s degrees or equivalents and higher educational qualifications (honours, Masters, and doctorate degrees) and all of the available nationally representative labour force survey data for South Africa between 1995 and 2011 is exploited. In contrast to what appears to be a growing consensus regarding the extent of graduate unemployment in the country, the analysis conducted shows no evidence of a high level or a markedly upward trend in graduate (i.e. degreed) unemployment. Instead levels and rates of graduate unemployment are found to be quite low in an international context, revealing that there is little cause for concern about broad trends in graduate unemployment.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 22/2012.
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
graduate unemployment; higher education; graduate employability;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
- J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
- J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
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- K. Pauw & M. Oosthuizen & C. Van der westhuizen, 2008.
"Graduate Unemployment In The Face Of Skills Shortages: A Labour Market Paradox,"
South African Journal of Economics,
Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 76(1), pages 45-57, 03.
- Kalie Pauw & Morné Oosthuizen & Carlene van der Westhuizen, 2006. "Graduate Unemployment in the Face of Skills Shortages: A Labour Market Paradox," Working Papers 06114, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
- Derek Yu, 2009. "The comparability of Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS)," Working Papers 08/2009, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
- Haroon Bhorat, 2004. "Labour Market Challenges In The Post-Apartheid South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 72(5), pages 940-977, December.
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