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          The Role of International Trade, Technology and Structural Change in Shifting Labour Demands in South Africa (English)
          Working paper by Haroon Bhorat, et al./ UNCTAD, 2010, 71 pages
          Categories: Emerging Economies and South South Cooperation, Trade Policy Analysis and Trade Data Sources

          South Africa’s relatively peaceful transition from minority rule to majority rule in 1994 masked the challenges that lay ahead in terms of dealing with the economic vestiges of the system of racial exclusivity. The post-apartheid labour market challenge is twofold: firstly, South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world – officially at 26.7 percent and 38.8 percent when discouraged workers are included. Secondly, alongside this excess supply of labour, the economy for a variety of historical reasons has experienced a rapid increase in the demand for educated workers – the upshot of which has been an ongoing and severe skills shortage. The core of the paper is a detailed attempt at outlining the key factors that have shaped the economy’s chronic labour market crisis. In particular, it focuses on the different forces that have shaped labour demand trends in the apartheid and post-1994 period. It seeks to explain the relative contributions of structural shifts in the economy, technology and international trade,respectively, in determining the labour demand trajectory of the economy over the last three and a half decades. Moreover, the paper provides a descriptive analysis of the impact of the global economic and financial crisis on South Africa’s employment performance.

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