LMI programme > Briefings

Public attitudes to work in South Africa

Date posted:


Publication year:


Corporate author/s:

Labour Market Intelligence Partnership (LMIP), Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)

Person/s author/s:

Mncwango, Bongiwe


briefing or fact sheet



This policy brief is based on an analytical study, with the objective to assess public attitudes towards the South African labour market. To address this question the study canvassed the opinions of both the employed and the unemployed. The study therefore adds value by providing detailed attitudinal data, to complement existing labour market macro-datasets. A quantitative methodological approach was used to undertake the study. Data was collected from a representative national sample of 2885 respondents that included the employed (30 per cent), unemployed work-seekers (37 per cent) and those who are economically inactive (33 per cent) in the labour market. Questions were fielded through the HSRC's South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS) in 2013. Privileging the connection between labour market behaviours and work attitudes, the study examined public attitudes to work in order to gain a deeper understanding of South African work values, preferences and experiences, and labour market behaviour patterns. While social attitudes to the labour market are dynamic, they also are shaped by perceived opportunities and constraints, which, in turn, frame expectations and aspirations of education and labour market participation. Therefore, if the challenge for policy-makers lies in how they can understand decision-making about work, job-searching, or participation education and training, an understanding of the public's lived experiences as labour market participants offers critical information for effective skills planning.

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