Seen as one of the most beautiful countries in the world, South Africa continues to face the hardships of unemployment and poverty. The global pandemic has seen the nation take a massive hit on its economy, facing devastating levels of unemployment.
Higher Education Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande recently launched the latest national list of occupations that are high in demand in South Africa. Updated every two years, this year’s list comprises of 345 in-demand skills, indicating the needs of the labour market.
According to the department of higher education and training, identifying the country’s skill needs and ensuring that education and training assist the needs of the economy is crucial. The department also defines these occupations as jobs that showcase a relatively high employment growth rate based on past, present and future trends that the country currently lacks.
What does this mean for you?
Sitting at an unemployment rate of 30.8%, many South African workers are facing the harsh reality of unemployment. However, this reality can be avoided. Education is key and if we are to reduce the country’s unemployment rate, our citizens’ skills need to be filtered out into the required needs of the economy. So whether you’re in matric or simply looking for a career change, perhaps it’s time to look at your options. Do you want to apply for a job that fits in your career field or are you willing to find a job that is in demand to increase your chances of finding a job?
Considering upskilling yourself
Being unemployed can be challenging and searching for job months on end can eventually take its toll on you. However, there is one thing you can gain from it, and that is making yourself more employable.
Try learning new skills by taking part in free online courses or learning portals. While being unemployed can become frustrating, one upside to it is that you’ll now have an opportunity to study and learn new skills at a pace that works for you.
Not only can these skills be added on to your CV, but it will also show employers that you’re ambitious and have a desire to grow your skills.
Look at your options
Unemployment for many South Africans is the reality at certain points in their career. With that being said, just because you’re currently unemployed doesn’t mean that there are no opportunities. Instead, look at your options.
Learning a new skill, freelancing or even volunteering are great ways to add temporary opportunities to your work experience. While it may not fit into your chosen career field or niche, these temporary opportunities put your existing professional skills to good use.
And the list of occupations in high demand may be a good place to start
With the nation still fighting the spread of the Coronavirus and gradually making its economic recovery, the current global pandemic has possibly changed the way you’ve learned and how you’ve thought about your career trajectory.
Facing many uncertainties, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of many young graduates. Recent graduates are anxious and are faced with having to put their career plans on hold and many have a bleak financial outlook. Rather than celebrating the start of a new chapter in their lives, many graduates are understandably worried about finding a job during a global pandemic. Searching for work immediately after graduation is challenging on its own, and adding that into a worldwide pandemic can be even more daunting.
The prospect of unemployment
There’s no doubt that the current Covid-19 pandemic has triggered one of the worst unemployment crises the nation has seen and if you’re graduating in 2020, you may have an even tougher time landing your first job.
With the country facing a 7.7% increase in their unemployment rate, graduates may have to make tough decisions due to the tough job market, many losing internships or jobs they’ve applied for as they’ve been cancelled or withdrawn.
Finding your first job may take a while
When it comes to finding a job fresh out of university, don’t beat yourself up if it takes you awhile to find your dream job. Yes, you may need to start earning an income, however, due to many businesses facing economic difficulties, it may be awhile before companies are able to afford hiring.
While this can be a bit demotivating, keep in mind that your first job won’t determine your career. It may force you to adjust the future you envisioned for yourself but it just means you need to appreciate any opportunity to get your foot in the right doors.
Stress and anxiety
With many people now facing the harsh realities of being unemployed, there’s no doubt that as a young graduate you may be feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed. However, it’s important to try and not crack under the pressure and instead focus and prioritise your mental health. Yes, you may be feeling more stressed than usual, but you’re not alone.
While it may not be the easiest pill to swallow that you are now unemployed, you can still use this time to explore alternative options, like remote working, online learning or even volunteering. Just because the path has changed, doesn’t mean the vision should.
As South Africa faces a sharp rise in the unemployment rate, there’s no doubt that those who find themselves without a job may be facing countless challenges. As a society, we don’t speak enough about how the stress that comes with being jobless can take a serious toll on one’s physical and mental health.
Being unemployed can leave you feeling anxious and uncertain about your future. However, this feeling of uncertainty after job loss is something that isn’t uncommon. Whether your contract has just ended, or you were fired or retrenched, you may be experiencing a whirlwind of emotions such as shock, denial, frustration, anger and depression.
While losing your job can become quite overwhelming, here are three things you can do to regain some control over the situation, ease your anxiety and maintain high spirits.
Take care of your well-being
Losing your job may leave you questioning your abilities and self-worth, however, allowing yourself to grieve is a completely normal experience. Although we all grieve differently, finding a healthy outlet to provide you with relief will help you deal with the loss and eventually assist you in moving forward.
Focus or pursue activities that will bring you joy or a sense of peace. Whether it’s expressing your creativity or trying a new hobby, avoid letting the job search consume you. Make time for yourself, have fun, rest and relax. Say it with me, “Self-care”.
Ask for help
Unemployment is something that can have an impact on your whole family and anyone else living with you. Instead of carrying your problems alone, speak to someone you can trust. Express how you feel and what you’re going through. Their support may be able to help you get through when you feel like you’re in your darkest hour.
Even if it means putting your pride aside, leaning on the people who care about you allows you to let off steam and have an emotional release. If you aren’t able to speak to a family member or to someone you can trust, contact crisis lines such as the National Depression and Anxiety Support Group (0800 456 789) and the Unemployment Support Group (011 234 4837) for help. Always remember that it’s okay to not be okay and there’s no shame in anything you’re feeling.
Don’t give up!
You don’t have to accept defeat. This is just a setback, not the end. Continue the job search and be proactive. Try not to get too comfortable just sitting at home and use this time effectively to achieve your goals and continue your job search. Update and polish your resume or CV and cover letter and ask yourself whether your resume reflects who you are and what you’re capable of. If it doesn’t, then you have to go back to the drawing board and think carefully about what you would like to include and exclude to showcase yourself.
Coping with unemployment can be stressful. Even though these steps may not prevent unemployment, they can help you alleviate some of the stress and anxiety you may be feeling. By following them you’ll be able to come out the other side still a winner.
In the words of Queen Beyonce Giselle Knowles “If you feel insignificant. You better think again… You’re part of something way bigger. Not just a speck in the universe… You’ll never lose, we are winners.”
As South Africa continues to make its economic recovery millions of South Africans have been left jobless. From retrenchments to contracts not being renewed, losing a job can be one of life’s most stressful experiences. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t unique to South Africa but ours is one of the highest in the world. Everywhere we drive or walk, we see countless homeless people or beggars standing at the robots (aka traffic lights), trying to make ends meet. Consistently measuring an unemployment rate of above 20%, we face massive socio-economic challenges such as poverty and inequality that have a ripple effect on all who live within our borders.
According to data Statistics South Africa, South Africa’s unemployment rate has had a staggering increase of 7.5%, taking the country’s unemployment rate to 30.8% in the third quarter of 2020. There are now fewer jobs in South Africa than there were at the start of 2020.
Despite the first quarter being when we experienced the COVID-19 hard lockdown and severely limited economic activity, the second quarter unemployment stats only showcase a fraction of the devastation of the pandemic.
While the official figures take into account the labour force who are unemployed but are actively looking for work, the total unemployment figure includes anyone who has a job, wants a job and those who aren’t looking for work. There is quite a big difference between the official and expanded definition of unemployment, which raises a lot of questions as it all comes down to who is or isn’t counted. Ultimately, this means that to be counted as being officially unemployed by StatsSA, unemployed people must be actively looking for work.
While the latest unemployment figures paint an alarming picture regarding the country’s unemployment crisis, Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi states that despite these figures, South Africa will eventually improve their current economic crisis.
Even if you didn’t love your job, it may have provided you with some structure or a purpose in your life and suddenly finding yourself out of work can leave you questioning your identity or what the future may hold for you. Being unemployed may also affect your overall mental and emotional health, which could eventually lead to depression and anxiety.
While the stress and worry can feel overwhelming, there are quite a few resources that are available to make the transition slightly easier. The first of these resources to consider is the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) so you can get a steady stream of income while you are finding your way.
Most importantly, while the situation may seem bleak right now, it’s not the end and the country is on the path to economic recovery so things will improve.