The Labour Market Significance of the New Grade 9 Certificate

Research Report, Employment Growth & Development Initiative, Human Sciences Research Council

This paper seeks to understand the link between education and employability. It focuses on a particular gap in education delivery – the absence of a qualification below a matriculation certificate for the approximately 50% of school entrants who do not reach this level. The Education White Paper of 1995 envisaged a General Education Certificate (GEC) for learners who completed compulsory schooling at the end of Grade 9. However, given the need to redesign virtually all education policies, not much progress has been made on the GEC policy. Gustafsson and Bartlett provide a short analysis of the labour market and of quantitative and qualitative aspects of the schooling system, with a view to informing the design of the GEC. They then review South Africa’s international performance on both the years and the quality of secondary schooling. The next sections assess the employability of youths with different levels of education and highlight which segments of the labour market are likely to employ school leavers with a GEC. The reasons why learners leave school before completing Grade 12 are discussed and the current policy debate on the GEC is reflected. The paper concludes with policy proposals.