How to reduce unemployment? Two opposing views

Photo of march

COSATU members march against job losses. Archive photo: Zoƫ Postman

By GroundUp Editors

18 February 2019

How do we reduce unemployment? That is possibly the most important policy question facing South Africa.

Over the past week we have run a series of articles on unemployment. We have explained the seriousness of the problem, how employment has changed over the last decade, how unemployed people struggle to survive, and how unemployment drives people to do extremely dangerous and illegal work. UCT economics professor Vimal Ranchhod analysed some of the reasons for our high unemployment rate. And Tanya Cohen of Business Unity South Africa emphasised the need to make our TVET colleges more responsive to the needs of industry if their graduates are to be employed.

Today we publish perhaps two of the most controversial articles in the series. Jeremy Seekings and Nicoli Nattrass argue that to reduce unemployment we needs to prioritise labour-intensive work instead of higher wages. Gilad Isaacs, in an interview, disputes this and argues that changes in industrial policy (or its implementation) are needed to get more people working. We hope you find the debate useful.