State Of SA Skills in Numbers

How has the South African workforce shifted in terms of these skill levels since 1994?

1. Number of Workers by Skill level – 1994

Skilled = 1,8 million

Semi-skilled = 4,2 million

Low skilled = 2,9 million

TOTAL: 8, 9 million

2. Number of Workers by Skill level – 1994

Skilled = 3,8 million (108% Increase)

3. Semi-skilled = 7 million (66% Increase)

4. Low skilled = 4, 3 million (49% Increase)

TOTAL: 15 million


In 1994, 21 out of 100 workers in South Africa were skilled. Almost half were semi-skilled and 32 out of 100 workers were in lower skilled occupations. Since 1994 there has been a substantial shift to skilled employment. However the official unemployment rate for South Africa increased from 22% in 1994 to 25% in 2014. The expanded unemployment rate (people who have stopped looking for employment) for South Africa was 35% in both 1994 and 2014

Labour Market Dynamics (1994-2014)

The number of employed has increased by 6, 1 million since 1994. The number of unemployed (expanded definition) has increased by 3, 4 million. The percentage growth of the unemployed (73, 3%), however, has been higher than the growth of the employed (69, 2%).


• The QLFS (Quarterly Labour Force Survey) data strongly support the findings of the NDP that the education system is not adequately serving skills development, and is in urgent need of reform

• Weak GDP data since 2008 further support the National Development Plan’s findings that a broad programme of reform needs to be implemented, with skills development as one of its key features

• Employment growth between 1994 and 2014 was completely inadequate to reduce unemployment, further raising the level of urgency with which skills development should be treated

SOURCE: Statistics South Africa, Employment, unemployment, skills and economic growth- An exploration of household survey evidence on skills development and unemployment between 1994 and 2014