• Stats SA

Education Series Volume VI: Education and Labour Market Outcomes in South Africa, 2018

Two out of ten (19,9%) of the total South African population were Generation X adults, while more than one-third of the population (35,3%), were Millennials, and the majority (45,5%) were the Born-free generation, this is according to the 2018 Education and Labour Market Outcomes in South Africa report released by Statistics South Africa today. The Born-free Millennials aged 19–24 years make 10,2% of the total population. Millennials made the largest share of the working-age population (54,1%) followed by Generation X adults (30,5%) and Born-free Millennials aged 19–24 years who made up 15,7% of the working-age population.

According to the report, the gender gap in attendance of a tertiary educational institution had narrowed from 8,4 percentage points in 2002 to 4,8 percentage points in 2018, which translated to females outpacing men during that period. Attendance of a tertiary educational institution remained stable for black Africans from 2002 to 2018 (39,9% and 39,4%, respectively), while it declined from 63,1% to 46,5% for coloureds, and from 73,1% to 60,0% for whites. However, attendance of a tertiary educational institution grew from 72,0% in 2002 to 95,7% in 2018 among Asians/Indians.

The report further shows that the racial gap in tertiary educational attainment had increased between black Africans and whites (from 28,4 percentage points in 2002 to 35,7 percentage points in 2018). Furthermore, the percentage of tertiary qualification achievement for all races increased from 10,9% in 2002 to 14,9% in 2018. Compared to their preceding generation in 2002, Millennial women in 2018 had outpaced men in secondary school completion and in the achievement of a tertiary qualification.

A notable reduction was observed for individuals aged 23–38 who did not have any schooling which reduced from 4,3% in 2002 to less than one percent (0,9%) in 2018, and those who dropped out from primary school reduced from 19,5% in 2002 to 6,6% in 2018.

Among Millennials aged 23–38 in 2018, close to half (49,5%) were employed, while 23,8% were unemployed, and 26,7% were not economically active. This was close to a three-percentage-point decline from 2002 to 2018 among employed people across Generation X and Millennials. Two out of ten (20,4%) employed Millennial adults aged 23–38 had a tertiary qualification in 2018, while in 2002, the same was true for 15,9% Generation X adults. There was, however, a higher percentage of unemployed Millennials with a tertiary qualification in 2018 (9,5%) compared to unemployed Generation X adults aged 23–38 with a tertiary qualification in 2002 (5,6%).

Overall, 46,1% of Born-free Millennials were not in education, employment or training (NEET), with 23-year-olds having the highest percentage in this category (53,2%). Furthermore, the gender gap in NEET status was 7,6 percentage points higher for Born-free Millennial women compared to men. The majority of NEET Born-free Millennials did not complete secondary school (44,8%), while 40,8% completed secondary school.

Generation X adults born between 1960 and 1979 were 39–58 years old in 2018; the Millennials born between 1980 and 1999 were 19–38 years old in 2018; and the Born-free generation born in 1994 and later were 0–24 years old in 2018. These three generations were shaped by important political changes in South Africa which affected the choices they made in their educational and labour market participation.