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Unemployed have a 0.3% chance of being wealthy

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More than one in four South Africans who want to and are willing to work cannot find a job. This is according to Stats SA which this week released its quarterly labour force survey in which it highlighted that unemployment had risen to a 10-year high of 26.7% in the three months to March 2016. The country is, however, still some way off its high of 31.2% in Q1 2003.

Having a quarter of the employable and productive population unemployed further hampers South Africa’s ability to grow its economy. In fact, it stifles any efforts taken by both the private and public sector to manufacture a glimmer of hope in the flailing economy. It’s clear that South Africa needs to find ways to stop the bleeding.

Plugging the leakunemployed

“If one is unemployed, the probability of being in a lower, middle or high-income group is 93%, 7% and 0.3% compared to if one is employed, where the probability of being in a lower, middle or high-income group is 72%, 27% and 1%,” says Zaakirah Ismail, Standard Bank economist. “The low income groups are heavily reliant on the government for social grants (around 40%).

“The middle income groups rely mainly on salaries and wages (60% to 70%) while the upper income group relies on salaries and wages (33% to 61%), net profits (21% to 30%) and investments (5% to 32%) as their main sources of income.”

Entrepreneur? Battling to get a home loan?

These numbers are further impacted on by the level education and where people live. Ismail explains that the probability of being in a lower income group with no schooling is 93%. “With a matric it’s 62% and with a tertiary education, the probability of being in a lower income group is only 47%,” she says. “On the other hand, the probability of being in a higher income group with no schooling is 0.3%, with a matric it’s 2.2% and with a tertiary education, the probability is only 4.1%.

“If an individual lives in a more urbanised province such as Gauteng, the probability that they are in a higher, middle or lower income group is 1%, 21% and 78%. This is better compared to a less urbanised province such as the Northern Cape, where the probability that they are in a higher, middle or lower income group is 0.7%, 16% and 84%.”


It may cost up to R2m to raise your child from birth to 18 years old - more is tertiary education is included.

It’s clear that education is key to being employed and working your way to the upper rungs of the income ladder.

So, how do you get started? The first step is exploring your options based on your needs. Do you need a matric certificate? Well, Adult Basic Education and Training is where you should start. Do you need to brush up on your literacy and communication skills? Project Literacy Education Centres has a range of family-based programmes that include reading and computer skills training.

Need to break the glass ceiling?glass ceiling

If you are employed but are unable to advance due to a lack of skills or further educational qualifications your first port of call should be to speak to your company’s human resources manager about any company-sponsored training courses available. If your company does not offer any further education or training, enquire whether it is prepared to pay for external service providers’ courses.

If this is not an option, why not just invest in yourself and your own future? Part-time and online courses are available from a range of service providers, from Damelin, UNISA and Monash South Africa, to those of the formalised universities of Pretoria, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

The best advice is to just invest in yourself. No one is going to give you an opportunity if you don’t take the first step. Your present does not determine your future.


David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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