Labour Market Information and Career Planning – CASE STUDY – Stats South Africa Quarterly Labour Force Survey Results – 2019 Quarter 1


To Plan your Career effectively – Know Your Market

This article focuses on one aspect of career planning, knowing your market, both local, and global. This is done by gathering career information, which can be information about occupations, professions, salary, working conditions, qualification and experience required for a career path – read more here. The objective of this article is to share information about sources of career information, and an illustrative example of one of them, Labour Market Information (LMI). The example we will analyse in line with career planning is the Stats South Africa Quarterly Labour Force Survey Results.

[IMAGECareer Decision-Wheel – Info to gather for Career Planning]

2. Career Wheel Picture

What to consider for Career Research and where to get Career Information

 As you conduct career research, you should gather career information that helps you to make informed decisions. An example from the US of a career information system is: Try this free useful resource, even though it is US-focused, you can get a lot of insights. The report includes your interests and occupations you can explore and their growth trajectory in terms of salary and the Future of Work.

It is difficult in Africa to find such systems, unfortunately, so you would have to look at many sources. Examples of five sources from South Africa include, but are not limited to:

  1. Job bank websites:
  2. University career centres:
  3. Career services websites:
  4. Salary information websites:
  5. Professional associations and professional associations in South Africa:
  6. Labour market information, e.g. Government departments:

Labour market information is a type of career information, and they are interdependent.

“Labour market information tells you about the workplace or labour market. Labour market information describes the condition of the labour market, past and present, as well as future projections. It makes clear where work opportunities are increasing or decreasing, what occupations exist, what you need to study to become a professional in that occupation, what is required to take up an occupation, how one can find a job, change job or progress in a career.



Why South Africa?

South has both historical significance in Southern Africa and current significance in Africa and the World. Historically, as far back as the 1900s, labour migration into South African mines and Johannesburg, was a recognized and tightly managed local and regional labour system. Egoli, City of Gold, was a job search, employment and career plan for many, especially men, from that time up to today. 25 years ago, with the end of Apartheid, and an economic boom, while many countries in Africa like Somaliland, DRC and closer to home like Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, fell into crisis, all roads once again for males and females of all ages, led to South Africa. There are many nationalities who have taken up residence in South Africa for employment, business and survival purposes.

It is therefore a befitting illustrative case study that I hope will resonate with the geographically diverse audience of this article and work I do. Additionally, South Africa holds a strategic position in terms of business and politics on the continent, so what happens in the country, has implications in other places other than just nationally.

To get best use of this illustrative example:
  1. If resident in South Africa, or foresee this as a future option, reflect on what the implications are on your career or on someone important to you.
  2. If not in South Africa, infer and apply the same thinking to your own context. Look for the latest labour force information in your country and analyse the implications on your career.

Recap pic

KEY FINDING 1: Unemployment has continued to increase over 10 years

South Africa’s unemployment rate increased by 0,5 of a percentage point to 27,6% in Q1 of 2019. The unemployment rate has fluctuated between the 20% and 30% band for the last 11 years. The number of employed people decreased by 86 thousand from 16,4 million in Q1:2018 to 16,3 million in Q1:2019.

Unemployment trend pic

There is also an increase in the proportion of those who are in long-terms unemployment. The trend over the last 10 years has been increasing, from 57% in Q1: 2008 to 69% in Q1: 2019.

longterm unemployment

KEY FINDING 1 Career implications: for those currently employed, is tougher to keep jobs where industries are scaling down or restructruring. Due to limited profits or growth, it also means career progression is competitive and limited. For job seekers, the potential for getting employment is severely limited and equally competitive, making long-term unemployment common. This means, one needs to be invest more in structured career planning, job search and also making use of professional services and robust networks.

KEY FINDING 2: Youth unemployment has increased

Unemployment rate for youth aged 15 – 24 years is at a staggering 55% in Quarter 1 of 2019, and those Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) are at 33,2%. The unemployment rate for those aged 25-34 (34,2%) is more than double that of the 45-54 (15,6%) year olds.

NEET Youth

KEY FINDING 2 Career implications: this is a very worrying statistic and trajectory as idleness breeds other social ills. This is also the future generation of the nation. This means, at an individual level, you need to work on personal power to push back negative peer pressure, look for personal development opportunities offered by various institutions and look into entrepreneurship or joining the gig economy. Seek spaces and resources for structured career development support as well.

KEY FINDING 3: Unemployed youth graduates statistics have increased

Unemployment rate for graduates aged 15 – 24 years increased by 11,4 percentage points quarter to quarter to 31% in Quarter 1 of 2019. This means that despite being educated, many youths are unemployed.

unemployed graduates

 KEY FINDING 3 Career implications: education and qualifications still matter, but you must get the right ones that will make you competitive. This means investing more in career research, workplace trends, identifying future of work needs and skills that you can invest in. It is no longer business as usual. Volunteering to gain experience and develop transferrable skills and career portfolios that provide evidence of these skills may be “new ways” of edging out the competition for entry level jobs. Below are samples questions to ask yourself before committing to an education program, a course or qualification linked to career planning: 

  • What is the likelihood of getting a particular job at the end of this course?
  • What is the competition for places on a specific course or training programme?
  • What type and level of qualification are employers looking for?
  • What jobs are available locally, in the region, continent and globally?
  • What earnings can I expect?
  • What are the chances of career progression in . . . ?
  • Where will I be able to find work as . . . ?
 KEY FINDING 4: Employment in Elementary and Domestic Work remains high

 Close to a third (29,1%) of all people employed in Q1: 2019 were employed in elementary and domestic work occupations. This is worrying in terms of transforming the huge inequalities and poverty that exists for many people in South Africa. Other results also show a decline in jobs in these areas, including agriculture.

domestic workers

KEY FINDING 4 Career implications: entry into professional areas of work in industry and other sectors is therefore tougher, as these “easier” to enter professions cut down on employees. This means one needs more investment in career planning, professional job search strategies and building networks that can deliver. However, there needs to be more effort at a macro and government level to address this, together with key stakeholders.

KEY FINDING 5: Unemployment has a gender, a race, geographical and an age variation

Diversity considerations matter – women are more impacted; both black and coloureds are more affected; young people are more impacted and rural provinces are worse off.

Highest official and expanded unemployment rates recorded in Eastern Cape; while Limpopo, North West, Kwazulu Natal and NC provinces all have more than 15% points difference between their expanded and official unemployment rates.

Expanded definition of Unemployment includes:

– Official unemployment (searched and available) 6,2 Million people

– Available to work but are/or

•   Discouraged work-seekers                        3,0 Million people

•   Have other reasons for not searching         0,9 Million people

Women unemployed more

Black African women

KEY FINDING 5 Career implications: in addition to all the above considerations, be aware of the diversity challenges you will face. The full report is insightful and useful on gender, age, race and geographical location differences.

This LMI analysis shows that career planning, career progression, job search and proactive career management is a full-time sport and a critical life area to invest time and energy in.

Implications for Immigrants in South Africa

Even though Stats SA did not disaggregate its data to reflect the contribution or status of immigrants in this picture, it is important to briefly reflect on the impact on them. In addition to all the above listed career implications, immigrants in South Africa, notwithstanding their status, are doubly affected and have several other barriers to contend with. Legality is one of them, as conditions for getting work permits have become more stringent, and some companies are enforcing the quotas of foreigners they are permitted to have, many employers are utilizing this to dismiss foreign employees. Xenophobia is another challenge that easily flares up as locals blame foreigners for the picture these results reflect. Foreigners with children born in South Africa or being educated here, also have a lot to think about.

 What now?

I wish I had a ready-made response about what the solutions are at an individual, institutional, national and continental level. My task today was to raise awareness and in so doing equip the reader with tools to seek information about labour market trends that may currently be affecting your career, you job search, your business or opportunities open to you and others. Despite this, what I know is that information is critical for strategizing, planning, decision-making and acting. As you do your life and career planning, research and factor in the LMI available to you.

How can i help

Invitation – Take-A-Break and Learn Weekly Webinar ­

You are invited to the weekly webinar that unpacks the content of this blog.
If you have questions or areas you want me to address please email these to me or post in the blog’s comment box.

 How to participate –

Date: this Thursday, May 23, 2019

Time: 1:00 PM Johannesburg / 11AM-12PM GMT


How to Join –

  1. Join via Zoom Meeting link Meeting ID: 272 236 8200
  2. Join via Facebook Live link

The End!

Individuals: If you need support on how to utilise this career information for career planning, job search, career progression or CV/resume review, whether currently employed or not, get in touch using the e-mail address provided. Also share and follow this work 😊.

Ennie Fletcher Career Day blog picture By: Ennie Chipembere Chikwema, Career Coach and Learning Specialist; 


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Twitter: @EnnieChipembere

Date published: 20 May 2019

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