Inequalities in Higher Education and the Structure of the Labour Market

by MOLEKE, P., 2005
Employment and Economic Policy Research Programme, Occasional Paper 1, HSRC Press.

“Moleke examines the inequities in higher education in South Africa and their consequences for the labour market. She uses the Human Sciences Research Council’s research on the employment experiences of university graduates in South Africa, based on a sample of 2 672 university graduates who obtained their qualifications between 1990 and 1998 across all fields of study. Moleke finds that field of study is the major determinant of employability for those with higher education qualifications. Race continues to play a role in employability, irrespective of the field of study. However, the impact of race seems minimal when all other factors are taken into account. In particular, students from historically black universities have lower employment prospects than students from historically white universities, regardless of race. Differences were also noted in the sector of employment: the public sector played a key role as the employer of African graduates. She shows that increasing participation rates, whether in education or in the labour market, have done little to address the inequalities of the past. Clearly, enhancing education’s productive and distributive functions should be a priority. Education should not only provide all the skills and competencies needed in a changing economy, but should also ensure that sections of the population are not left behind because of a lack of appropriate skills and qualifications. “