SA’s jobs market gets tight

It’s becoming harder to stay employed in South Africa.
Thousands of hopeful job applicants queue for 200 positions advertised by the Metro Police Department in Durban. Picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters

Don’t expect an improvement in the country’s employment figures when Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) releases numbers for the first quarter of 2019 later today, with a spate of large companies having announced plans to cut staff since the beginning of the year.

Although about 80 000 jobs were added in the last three months of 2018, indications are that there will not be a repeat of this growth. A sluggish economy and an increasingly cost-focused private sector have seen businesses prepare to let go of some of their staff.

So far, more than a dozen companies have said that they had reduced their headcount or planned to do so by entering formal retrenchment processes or offering early retirement or voluntary retrenchment packages.

Numbers are rising

News this week that state-owned diamond mining company Alexkor plans to retrench 238 employees follows sugar and property development group Tongaat Hulett saying that it is looking to let go of 5 000 employees across operations.

Companies that announced job cuts in 2019  Jobs to be cut
Standard Bank 1 200
MultiChoice  2 194
Sibanye-Stillwater 3 450
Tongaat Hulett 5 000
Impala Platinum 1 500

So far this year, the mining and construction sectors have shed the most jobs. Mining houses Impala Platinum and Sibanye-Stillwater announced they are cutting about 5 000 between them.

There was a similar story at construction firm Basil Read, which let go of about 1 000 people. Group Five, which has brought in businesses rescue practitioners to help save it, could reduce its headcount by as many as 3 000 people.

The difficulty in these sectors can be seen in the Stats SA quarterly employment figures for the period to end-December showing sharp drops in both industries. The number of full-time mining jobs, for example, fell 1.5% or 7 000 to 449 000, compared to the previous quarter.

Stark decrease in construction sector

The decrease in the construction sector is even more stark, with 20 000 jobs disappearing in the three-month period. At the end of December, the sector employed 522 000 people, 90 000 fewer than at the same time in 2016.

The difficulty in the construction sector can also be seen in those who managed to stay employed, but earning less. Wages in the sector fell 0.6% for the quarter and were only up 0.9% for the year. This effectively means that people working in the construction sector were earning less when measured against an average inflation rate of 4.62% for the year.

The construction and mining sectors are not the only industries shedding jobs. Automation has led to banks like Nedbank and Standard Bank reducing the number of people they collectively employ by over 4 000 over the past two years.

Read: Here’s how many branches banks have shut in the last decade

The adoption of new technology was also blamed for the mooted 2 000 reduction in staff at pay-TV operator MultiChoice earlier this month, as customers move towards alternative entertainment platforms.

MultiChoice is not the only media house cutting back on staff. Independent Media, Tiso Blackstar and Media24 have made efforts to reduce their employee numbers in the past few years.

The drop in the number of employed people is a further blow to government as it seeks to put a dent in the stubbornly high unemployment rate of around 27%.

Government needs to walk the talk

Although technology has played a role in eliminating some jobs, mismanagement of the economy by government for the better part of a decade is ultimately responsible, says economist Iraj Abedian.

“This is what to expect when an economy has been contracting for 10 years.”

Abedian says that although government, under the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa, has committed to turning around the economy this commitment is yet to be turned into action. “Talk and ambition have to be converted into policy.”

He says an example of this can be seen in it how it is tackling the problems at power utility Eskom. The crisis-ridden state-owned enterprise needed R69 billion in February, and got a commitment from government at last week’s opening of parliament for a further R260 billion in funding.

Abedian says that despite government saying it is committed to supporting the economy, he questions why it continues to support an entity that absorbs so much cash and was behind the rolling blackout that triggered a recession earlier this year.

“We can’t talk out way out of our difficulties,” he says.



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“We can’t talk out way out of our difficulties,” he says – To true – The ANC have been talking and promising now for 25 years and all that happened is the country has been looted!!!!

Well I don’t blame the common man on the street for still believing the ANC’s promises, I mean – you get a lovely yellow shirt each year…

At least the looting was a given, which made my financial planning easier.

Was listening to the Eusebius McKaiser show yesterday on 702.

He had an economist and two other women from NGOs critiquing the economic aspects of the Sona. Not only did they pretty much shred it; they offered up a whole range of completely sensible alternatives.

I find it incredibly scary when 3 people who’ve not even met before can totally out think the entire ANC in half an hour.

Similarly, SABC TV ran an interview with Vuyani Jarana’s former advisor at SAA who, in 10 minutes, articulated a 10 times more coherent view of how the government should manage it’s SOE’s than you have ever heard out of the mouth of government.

So the poverty and inequality problem we have in this country starts with the quality of thinking in the ANC.

Same goes for the EFF and COSATU, and goodness knows how much better the DA is: I find it hard to tell what they really think.

Our sports teams are fair proxies for our government. In all league tables of performance our government is doing worse than the Proteas.

That they seem incapable of seeing this just confirms the assertion.

We are not in good hands at all. Small wonder we are shedding jobs.

I find it incredibly scary that someone would watch and listen to that drivel, let alone that it actually makes sense 😉 What is the world coming too.

you beat me to it.. between 9am and 12pm, 702 is dead to me.

The Mining Charter, in combination with BEE laws, is a powerful catalytic converter that changes mineworkers into zamma zammas. Luthuli House is the mad chemist who uses these trusted socialist recipes to turn the economy upside down, destroy employment opportunities, implode the tax base and dumps the nation in poverty and ruin.

Eskom will be the first of these socialist experiments to go catastrophically wrong. Few people realise that Eskom’s financial implosion will eclipse the manmade disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Facility. The nuclear fallout at Chernobyl killed less than one-hundred-thousand people. The financial fallout after an Eskom implosion will cause the premature deaths of 25 million South Africans. How do we get to that figure? Look at what happens in countries that suffer under hyperinflation. No access to TB medication, antiretrovirals and insulin, mean that patients who need antibiotics, who suffer from tuberculosis, AIDS and diabetes will die within 12 months. In South Africa that adds up to about half the population.

If the world believes that Chernobyl was the worst manmade disaster in history, they haven’t seen the financial damage that radiates from the manmade Eskom disaster.

Underlying both the cause of the accident at Chernobyl and the malicious state response (lies, obfuscation) was the centralised power held by an incompetent leadership of an evil political party, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, with absolute loyalty to the party rather than the people and lots of talk of preserving the sanctity of the Revolution. Replace the terms Chernobyl and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union with South Africa and ANC … .

The Chernobyl example is a good analogy.

To this you can add: Who will the ANC blame when everything they “struggled for so valiantly and selflessly” goes pear-shaped?

Ramaphosa’s next SONA, if he does get one, will likely contain quotes from Hunter S Thompson, or Aldous Huxley.

As in the case of poor old Madiba, whose obituaries were written at least a year before the ANC found it politically convenient to pull the switch, most in media have already prepared Cyril’s recall obituary.

If Koeberg is neglected cape Town will be off the map.

Yes, living in CT is a risk. There have been 3 incidents already but according to Gordhan they were too insignificant to report!! I looked into insuring against the loss we would suffer in the event of an evacuation. We would lose multiple properties, our business and our livelihood – we would simply lose everything and there is no way to insure that risk!!

Koeberg actually is the safest place in the country. I know people who work there. They have got international the best international qualifications and they are respected across the globe. The systems and procedures at Koeberg must comply with international standards and they are monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency if I remember correctly. So, the closer you live to Koeberg, the safer you are. ☺

“world believes that Chernobyl was the worst manmade disaster in history”. The world does not believe this. It wasn’t even the worst nuclear accident in terms of deaths. Don’t make things up because you are watching a drama about it on netflix.

Are we expecting long retired “freedom fighters”, communists, unionists and crooks to resolve issues and grow the economy to create jobs?

The ability is not there and never will be. Where would it come from?

Yes, you can add “terrorists/revolutionaries” to that list.

The ANC is “terrorizing” SA’s long-term economic prospects. Their policies terrorize the business confidence and certainty SA needs.

The old S.A. To her last days, again odds, did survive. Common sense broke the apartheid chain. The tools to survive included Rand devaluation set of again inflation. Another was self supporting in all sectors. Together with a well disciplined labor force, it worked to survive boycott and worst. The new S.A did away with all that. Worst, installed new apartheid laws. To repair past wrongdoings. All this together added up to today’s economic disaster results.

Wrong title. Should read, “It’s becoming harder to GET employed in SA”

Government is howling about creating jobs, it is not government that create jobs, they must create the climate to create jobs. The unemployed look to government for a job. To a degree they have created unnecessary jobs, Eskom, SAA civil service, thousands of extras sitting around doing nothing.

The big problem is that the ANC have made such a mess of education that what they put into the job market is unemployable, be it lack of the very basic skills or just an arrogant union based attitude.

If the history of socialism in Africa is anything to go by, we need to hit unemployment figures of roughly 60-90%, hyperinflation and economic collapse before the reform buttons get pushed.

So 2 lost decades behind us and probably one more to go. Like China’s 1950-1980’s Great leap backward, we’ve become the sick old man of Africa.

That being said, CR probably is our only hope, albeit unlikely to succeed.

That last hope went out of the window when Ramaphosa caved in to Magashule’s list of rotten “comrades”. Magashule is doing Zuma’s dirty work and Ramaphosa is obviously dancing to Magashule’s playbook. Tragic, Ramaphosa is now also captured.

I work in the engineering industry. We are often told about the alleged “skills shortage” in SA. I had a guy a while ago who graduated as a civil engineer from a mainstream university. He sent out his CV to more than 100 companies, and got 1 interview, with a guy who built houses and offered him R2000 per month. Major civil engineering consultancies are laying off people. The biggest one in SA apparently is firing people and closing smaller offices.

So much for a so-called skills shortage, eh? You spend at least 4 years at varsity, in one of the more difficult degree courses, only to be unable to find a job. Or you work for a large company for 20 plus years, and then HR offers you counselling because you are about to be fired.

There is NO skills shortage in SA. There may be a shortage of people with vast experience and good qualifications willing to work for peanuts, but a skills shortage? Nah.

Well actually there is a massive Skills Shortage : problem really is that its almost entirely in the Ruling party !!!!!!
Same corrupt Mamparas just loot onwards largely because they are actually the best the ANC have !!!

The same scene in process engineering. A student at Stellenbosch finished her master after 6 years commitment and the only job offer she had paid R6k a month!

Academics are part of the problem, they are misleading their students with the belief that the time and money spent on their courses will provide them with some return.

Yet they graduate almost 200 process engineers in a year now, up from say 20 10-15 years ago. The process engineering industry just did not grow to take these people!

I am let us say in the mature section of that industry. The number of people, all post graduate qualified with 10 to 20 years experience leaving SA is staggering. Us old bullets benefit in a mad way because some of these need replacing and the pool has only one or two old dogs in it.

And Ramaphosa dreams on……………….

Until Govt breaks the stranglehold of the unions, nothing will change. This won’t happen of course because the unions are an integral part of the ANC. The National Democratic Revolution continues under our noses while us frogs boil slowly. Getting hotter !!!

Unfortunately the looting of the last 9 yrs is coming home to roost.
Disinvestment into this country, lack of confidence in our political will, Rand devaluation, overpopulation are all a result of racist BEE policies and red tape which is strangling any chance of economic survival here.
To think that the Guptas owe Eskom R600m in illegal payouts to themselves whilst spending R450m on a recent wedding in India just shows how low we have sunk. They obviously know there is no way we can recover this and all the other money stolen from the South African tax payer.
No investment = no jobs = Votes for the EFF = A socialist dictatorship.
The only good news is that there will be nothing left to steal by then…although it does seem to be happening very quickly!

Eventually the ANC will run out if other people’s money.

The same economic policy that brings you the social justice of free education, brings you the social injustice of zero employment opportunities. Socialist policies can give you everything for free while the economy implodes around you.

A ‘tight labour market’ conventionally refers to an economy close to full employment, which is clearly an inappropriate term in this context.

President Ramaphosa and the ANC knows exactly what the priorities are and how to fix them to get South Africa going forward again with required sustainability. Problem is they are to scared of labour unions and mass action to do anything. President Ramaphosa must watch out because under his watch this country will be another Zimbabwe within his period of presidency and then everybody will refer the further decline to the Ramaphsa regime like they do now referring all previous decline for the to the Jacob Zuma regime!!

End of comments.





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