Who’s hiring in South Africa, as the job market picks up

Data published by Adzuna, an online job aggregator, shows that it took South Africa’s job market less than three weeks to hit rock bottom, following the government’s enforced lockdown on 27 March.

By the start of April, online vacancies recorded by Adzuna had dropped by more than 35% as the economy was all but shut down.

With only essential service workers permitted to perform their duties during level 5 of the national lockdown, it is estimated that just one in every three income earner was able to earn a salary between March and May.

Adzuna noted that Covid-19 has unsettled almost every job market globally, and even during lower alert levels of South Africa’s lockdown, it still poses a massive threat to critical industries, most notably travel & tourism.

A timeline of South Africa’s online job market

At the start of April, the hospitality sector was the hardest hit by the pandemic and lost nearly 60% of all its online advertised jobs due to lockdown regulations, Adzuna’s data showed. Some sectors, such as a few in science and engineering, showed a very slight uptick in vacancies during this time, presumably in a bid to try and curb the spread of the virus.

By May, there was a 38% decline in advertised positions online, with the domestic cleaning industry feeling the heat – an 85% reduction in online vacancies.

With schools indefinitely closed at the time, opportunities for teachers also declined at an alarming rate. Warehousing and logistics employment opportunities declined by 33% in May compared to pre-lockdown data, and there were 70% fewer administrative positions being advertised online, the jobs aggregator said.

The country moved to level four lockdown in May, and regulations allowed for a few new sectors to be operational.

Public transport was allowed to resume to a certain degree, and there were some exceptions to the rules on inter-provincial travel. The move to level 4 however, did not bring the much-needed relief that South Africa’s job market had hoped for.

Glimmer of hope

As South Africa moved to level 3 of lockdown, with regulations gradually eased, the workforce seemed to take a breath it had been in desperate need of for months, Adzuna said. By the start of July, the local job market began seeing some gradual improvements, having lost nearly 40% of vacancies by this time.

“Though regulations allow for more movement and economic activity, some industries are still in limbo, unable to operate, keeping the country stuck in a job loss chasm.

“The re-opening of restaurants for sit-down meals at the start of July provided the industry with a slight boost in jobs, but the road to recovery will not be a comfortable,” it said.

The Covid-19 case count has rapidly increased over the last four weeks. Now, right in the thick of it, South Africa’s job market has gained back most of the lost vacancy count, Adzuna said.

While there are still around 5% fewer jobs on offer in July than were on offer before the announcement of the national state of disaster, this is a great improvement.

Covid-19 destroyed and created jobs in South Africa

If nothing else, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a massive indication of just how adaptable the workforce is and how easy it is for businesses to rely on the virtual presence of their employees, said Jesse Green, country manager for Adzuna South Africa.

Adzuna documented an unprecedented increase in remote working positions in South Africa over the last few months. By mid-July, posts directly related to Coronavirus and Covid-19 also increased by more than 300% compared to April.

“The rise and fall of job opportunities is something we predicted when the national state of disaster was first announced, but what we didn’t foresee was that South Africans would be able to come up with unique employment opportunities to help fill the gaps in the job market and address the concerns raised by the pandemic at the same time,” said Green.

The increases in advertised opportunities are minute when compared to the losses Adzuna has observed.

“But this might also be the dawn of a new era for the South African workforce where the old model of the employee working 9-5 shifts, in an office-bound position, will be replaced by one that requires less physical contact and produces more efficient and effective outcomes,” said Green.

Read: Looking for a job in South Africa: here’s what to expect right now

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