Is South Africa on its way to a job recession?

Recent reports in the media have sparked concern that South Africa may be headed towards an impending job recession. This follows a report by Adcorp, a recruitment group, which stated that employment numbers fell again for the third consecutive month.

Most of the job losses during August were in fact in the formal sector which unfortunately shed 14 382 jobs. According to the Adcorp Employment Index, employment fell at an annualised rate of 0.23% following declines of 3.1% in May, 2% in June and stagnant employment numbers in July.

According to Adcorp, when there are 6 consecutive months of employment declines it is classified as a job recession.

Shortly after this release, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group announced that increased job losses and the rise in living expenses were contributing to more South African’s feeling suicidal.

Considering the fact that South Africa’s unemployment rate, for the second quarter of 2012, stood on 24.9%, according to Stats South Africa, this does not seem surprising. Stats South Africa Deputy Director General Kefiloe Masiteng also stated that the number of South African graduates without jobs was of concern. This follows on the fact that the number of unemployed persons with a tertiary education increased by 24 000 for the second quarter of 2012.

Equally unnerving is the fact that South Africa’s labour law environment was recently ranked 143 out of 144 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, in addition to being rated as the worst country for labour-employer conflict, second worst for hiring and firing practices and the fifth worst for wage flexibility.

Unfortunately, these trends are pervasive and can be seen across industries and sectors, including that of microfinance. According to the Microfinance Banana Skins 2012 report “staffing” issues remain one of the most pertinent problems facing microfinance institutions in Africa and are more of a concern than in any other geographic group. The report further goes on to say that competition for scarce talent is increasing and that new entrants to microfinance are frequently poached by larger institutions and offered better salaries.

In addition, according to research commissioned by BANKSETA in May 2011 scarce skills identified for salary based microlenders during both primary and secondary research included the following: credit and debt management including debt counselling implications, customer care, marketing skills and compliance and legislation training. Furthermore, both small and large microlenders identified a need for certain generic skills such as a general understanding of credit, computer and IT skills, language skills, management, bank assurance skills and communication skills.

The research went on to say that most small lenders are understaffed and lack funds and therefore resort to training their staff internally. Most of this training, however, is not accredited and is delivered by employees who are not properly trained themselves.

In light of the above-mentioned job scarcities, and bearing in mind the unique skills shortages that face the microfinance industry, it is vital that businesses utilise accredited training providers to equip their staff with the necessary skills.

To add to your staff’s skills set consider enrolling them for one of the many courses available at Compuscan Academy – an accredited training provider in the credit industry. You can contact Compuscan Academy on 021 888 6000 or email You can also visit the website