The agricultural sector is one of few that observed employment gains over the second quarter of this year, adding 69 000 people to its combined workforce, but industry body Agri SA remains concerned about a decline in the skilled workforce in the sector.
The employment gains were recorded across operations in the Western Cape, the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Limpopo.
Some provinces, however, did note an employment decrease, including the Eastern Cape by 19 000, Northern Cape by 9 000, Gauteng by 8 000 and Mpumalanga by 18 000.
Agri SA is concerned about the decrease in skilled agriculture, as it recorded a loss in employment from 62 000 in the first quarter to 45 000 in the second quarter.
This marked a 27.4% quarter-on-quarter decrease and a 33.2% year-on-year decrease.
“The increase of employment in the agricultural sector is showing the sector's commitment to job creation, food security and growth of the economy despite many challenges,” says Agri SA investor relations administrator Lebogang Sethusha.
The organisation notes, however, that more has to be done to accelerate skills development efforts in the sector.
To this end, Agri SA’s Enterprises subsidiary has established the Agri Enterprises Training and Development Academy with the sole purpose of providing industry-specific training in scarce skills within the sector.
“We can develop a community of lifelong learners, responsible citizens and champions of industries,” Sethusha says.
Statistics South Africa in its Quarterly Labour Force Survey, published on August 24, revealed that South Africa's official unemployment rate was 34.4% for the second quarter.
The expanded unemployment rate, which includes persons who have given up on finding employment, was at 44.4% for the second quarter.