Global trend out of reach for South African job-seekers

SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

While the trend of the global workforce taking up multiple jobs continues to pick up momentum, South Africans find themselves stuck between the increasing cost of living and tough competition for limited employment opportunities.

This is according to Quest Staffing Solutions CEO, Kay Vittee who says that this trend would be welcomed in South Africa given the high levels of poverty and unemployment. “However, the lack of work opportunities remains our only constant in this regard.”

“In the international market, people working multiple jobs rather than having a single full time career is predicted to increase,” she explains.

Vittee refers to the published views of Dan Schawbel – author and partner and research director at executive development firm, Future Workplace – which focus on employees needing more flexibility and technology, resulting in the rise of creating new jobs, freelancing and becoming their own boss. The latter of whom Vittee explains is particularly popular with Millennials.

“Schawbel notes that by 2020, about 40% of Americans will be part of this ‘gig economy’,” she adds.

On the other end of the spectrum, local statistics show that we are facing an unemployment rate of 26.6% (Statistics South Africa, Q2) and concerning levels of poverty.

“This is evidenced by the findings from a recent study (a joint publication between Ilifa Labantwana, the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency) which reveals that about 63% of young South African children are currently living in poverty.”

“This is with the backdrop on economic uncertainty, sluggish growth and increasing prices of food and other essentials like transport, coupled with fewer work opportunities for skills that do not fall within high-demand sectors such as engineering or medicine,” Vittee says.

The 2014 Quest Whitepaper, ‘A Report on The Multiple Jobs Trend and Factors Affecting Employment in South Africa’, found that only 4% of research participants worked more than one job and the majority (60%) were unemployed. The vast majority, 80%, of the survey respondents did note, however, that they would consider taking on an additional job.

Vittee says, “I believe that the same would be true today.”

“Having said this, it is vital that we pay more attention to the underlying issues of creating work opportunities, developing skills and combatting poverty.”

“While government initiatives are a great start and should definitely be bolstered, the private sectors and job-seekers themselves also have a responsibility here. Businesses can definitely up their game in the development space and create opportunities through corporate social investment initiatives.

Job-seekers should also consider other avenues such as temporary employment and internships which can go a long way in building up their experience and resume,” she concludes.