PRESS RELEASE: SAPTU concerned about increase in unemployment due to COVID-19 lockdown

The South African Parastatal and Tertiary Institutions Union (SAPTU) is concerned about the increase in unemployment due to the COVID-19 national lockdown. According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey unemployment increased substantially by 2,2 million (52,1%) to 6,5 million compared to quarter 2 of 2020.

However, SAPTU is optimistic about the increase of employment in all labour sectors in the third quarter of 2020. Formal sector employment increased by 242 000 (2,4%); Informal sector employment by 176 000 (7,7%); Private households by 116 000 (11,5%), and employment in Agriculture increased by 9 000 (1,1%). “The agricultural sector has been hard at work since the start of the harsh lockdown in March and continue to provide food to all South Africans”, says adv Ben van der Walt, the General Secretary of SAPTU.

The number of employed persons also increased by 543 000 (3,8%) to 14,7 million compared to the second quarter of 2020. This is a positive indication that employment in South Africa for 2020 is starting to look up.

A major concern for SAPTU is the number of discouraged work-seekers that increased by 225 000 (9,1%). According to the survey the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 2,9 million (15,8%) between the two quarters, resulting in a net decrease of 2,6 million (12,8%) in the not economically active population.

SAPTU therefore urges the government to invest more in education and training institutions in South Africa to increase the economically active population. Education and training should be prioritised by the government from school to tertiary level. The government should focus on investing in technical schools, institutions and colleges and not solely focus on universities.

Learners who do not have the means to study at university level would then also have the choice of attending a technical college or institution to develop necessary skills that would greatly benefit the South African labour force. This will lead to an increase in South Africa’s economically active population and equip more South Africans with the necessary knowledge and skills to seek proper employment.

“Sustainable investment in tertiary education is of the utmost importance for the future of the country,” says adv van der Walt. “The government must invest more in technical institutions to stay at the forefront of development, innovation and technology and to equip the youth with valuable skills and knowledge.”

Issued by:                  SAPTU
Date:                          13 November 2020

Media Enquiries:          
Adv Ben van der Walt
General Secretary SAPTU