The typical reaction when a person became unemployed is to franticly engage in a job search process. However, the reality in South Africa is that a significant amount of unemployed people are already without employment for as long as five years. The job searching cycle normally begins with a lot of activity and drive but lose intensity as the job-seeker became disillusioned by the lack of success in landing suitable employment.
The dilemma of the unemployment pandemic in South Africa is that the long-time unemployed are frequently unmotivated to spend time, money or even hope on the cumbersome “work of finding a job”. To make matters worse recent research indicates that there is no statistical evidence that unemployed people that engage more actively in job search will be hired faster. What is even more surprising is that there is no correlation between the the quality of the employment that the unemployed person finds and the amount of energy that was invested in the job seeking process.
J Koen recently completed a doctoral study at the University of Amsterdam on the phenomenon that searching for a job is not enough to land suitable employment. It was found that unemployed persons that actively engage in seeking employment are more successful, but in many cases searching for a job is however not enough to re-enter the job market. Where the job-market is tight and vacancies are scares the study indicates that “just searching hard for a job” will not suffice.
In South Africa the probability of finding employment does not differ significantly between the searching and non-searching unemployed. The unemployed rely heavily on social networks to find work and many employers tend to recruit workers by word-of-mouth. There a tendency that the unemployed lately acts more passive by waiting for feedback from family or friends of possible employment opportunities.
J. Koen suggests that in order to address the reality that job search is not sufficient to address unemployment, strategies must be redirected to improve employability.
Employability is conceptualized as “ a form of work specific activity and adoption that enables workers to identify and realize career opportunities”.
The following dimensions must receive attention to address the unemployed person’s employability :
Koen describes this dimension as a readiness to cope and a willingness to explore one’s career possibilities. This process entails the objective evaluation of career options (the now), personal career goals (the future) and to consider possibilities, threats and opportunities that may lead to employment. Research indicates that setting and pursuing career goals includes the capability to adapt the career goals to the changing reality.
This is the interpersonal aspect of employability, that includes a person’s social skills and his social network. An unemployed person will rely on who he knows and where he can draw support from. This includes both formal and informal job-related networks.
This dimension includes personal competencies such as experience, training, skills and knowledge.
Career identity is the “cognitive compass” that a person utilize to navigate his career goals. The unemployed person must rethink his motivation to be employed and his reasons to prefer a certain kind of work. This dimension is closely related to his individual work values and motivation to work.
Many unemployed in South Africa do not search actively, regularly or intensively for employment due to the high costs of the process and the low probability of finding employment.
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André Beukes is an EU Management Consultant to international companies doing business in Europe. He provides clients with practical business support that makes a real difference doing business in the EU. “Put simply, I am here to help you meet your challenges. I believe in the importance of doing things correctly, meaning risks are reduced and problems are avoided.”