Where to for the South African Labour Market? Some ‘Big Issues’

by ALTMAN, M. & VALODIA, I., 2006
Transformation Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa January 2006, pp.1-5

The labour market landscape has changed dramatically over the first decade of democratic governance in South Africa. Of course, the most obvious change is extremely high and rising rates of open unemployment. This was partly caused by restructuring and capital intensification in traditional resource-based industries, without a concomitant growth in manufacturing or services. Historically, South Africa’s formal work places were dominated by large public sector, industrial, mining and agricultural employers. This changed dramatically over the 1990s due to a combination of factors such as globalisation, product market liberalisations, intensified domestic competition arising from easier market entry, and greater alignment of labour market regulation. Services sectors, whether formal or informal, have been an important source of employment growth. People in part-time, temporary, home-based and externalised working situations can no longer be seen as ‘atypical’, but rather as the norm. There is now a ‘diversity’ of workplaces, and continuous movement of workers between work states – ‘core’ formal, ‘non-core’ formal, informal and unemployed