The challenge of employment creation in South Africa

by Altman,M., 2013
"State of the Nation: South Africa 2012–2013: Addressing Inequality and Poverty. Edited by Udesh Pillay, Gerard Hagg, Francis Nyamnjoh, Jonathan D Jansen. Chapter 6 pp.185- 221."

Altman reviews trends in employment, unemployment and working poverty, as well as the employment scenarios developed by the Human Sciences Research Council. Central questions relate to which sectors might create jobs, the role of government in direct job creation, the connection between employment and poverty reduction, and the need for social protection. Many of South Africa’s challenges are common to similar countries, such as the ‘resource curse’ and the fact that most jobs have been created in services. Even under the best conditions, there will be a shortfall in market-based employment and the state will have to generate special employment. However, market-based solutions are more sustainable. Wage inequality and working poverty will remain central concerns, especially as many jobs are likely to be created in low-skilled services. Government will need to commit to ensuring that a social floor is achieved, in part by reducing the cost of living for items such as food and transport. Currently, social grants are central to reducing poverty; however, a sustainable path will require enabling people to engage in productive activity.