Men At Work: South Africa’s Employment Record

Employment in SA is Critical

The unemployment rates in South Africa have been a see-saw situation for many years. However, the average rate of unemployment is pegged at 25.49 by the Statistics South Africa group.

This measures the number of people looking for jobs.  In 2012, the same group said that the third quarter of the year registered the highest rate since 2008 with over 4.6 million unemployed. This increase from a 4.5 million in the first quarter was caused by the loss of jobs in the mining industry for men and domestic jobs among women. This not only means that millions won’t be able to visit with any serious intent to take a holiday, or seriously consider buying android cell phones, millions are simply struggling to remain alive.

Men versus Women

Historically, men get preference over women in almost everything related to work in South Africa. This includes education, job opportunities, and income levels.  One possible exception to this is if a South African woman belongs to a union then she may get getting equal wages with men not belonging to a union. A non-union worker gets an average of R2.400 while a worker affiliated with a union received an average pay of R 5,500, and this kind of ratio applies to all levels of work from low ranking positions to high level jobs. In addition, the number of women in the formal labor force is low under international standards with a difference of more than 14% against males in the work force. However, the gap is decreasing although the pay grade still remains on the extreme side.

Men At Work

In South Africa, while women are getting more job opportunities, the South Africa men remain the dominant force in senior positions in the corporate world. In fact men hold over 87% of the top level senior management position because there is still the strong influence over the traditional belief that women belong at home, in domestic or support jobs. A new relatively new trend in South Africa is the concept of “house husbands.”

Currently, there are about 60,000 stay-at-home fathers in the country. However, South Africa’s stay-at-home dads take on a different twist than the usual concept. Many of them prefer or have the opportunity to choose to work from the house, work part-time, and have the luxury of a domestic helper. Many of these men are semi-retired by choice and see no problem with giving their wife a chance to prove themselves in the work environment. A few examples include Greg Volkwyn who used to be a successful financial adviser and stockbroker but now runs a business and works as a financial consultant from his home. Others are Eckehardt Finicus also a stockbroker, Richard Dawes, and artist Sipho Chacha.

In the mainstream work environment, a major problem related to unemployment is poor education among young South African men. About one third of South African men aged 15 to 24 are not working because they don’t have sufficient credentials to land a job. The domino effect of unemployment among young men is that it worsens the crime situation so much so there is an ongoing debate about paying companies to hire these young men and reduce the gang culture. In some provinces like Cape Town there are government placement schemes to give the young men work experience so they are more hirable. The pay is low but it prepares them for being accepted into the mainstream work environment.