Goal 2030 - 22% of South Africans hold a post-school qualification
Qualification attainment is a key indicator in South Africa’s progress. Goal 2030 focuses on the proportion of South Africans aged 15-64 with a qualification from a public or private university, college or other post-school institution.
South Africa's attainment level was 14% in 2020 and needs to be 22% by 2030 to support our National Development Goals. In addition to tracking any qualification attained in the post-school system, Siyaphambili also tracks qualifications perceived as high value.
Siyaphambili, moving forward together, is what we do in South Africa. Are we doing enough as a country, to reach our 22% goal?
Future goal data
A slow, steady climb
Since South Africa transitioned to democracy in 1994, our attainment level has slowly and steadily increased, doubling over 25 years from 7% to 13.9%
President Cyril Ramaphosa has indicated that now, more than ever, there is a need to skill and re-skill the nation to ensure a competitive labour market. Siyaphambili’s goal of 22% qualification attainment aligns with the president’s vision of creating 2 million jobs by 2030. Attainment will need to rapidly increase over the next decade to achieve this.
Factoring in inequalities
Deep inequalities persist in South Africa, a result of our apartheid past. Educational inequalities start early in the schooling system. More than half of learners enrolled in grade 1 will leave the schooling system before completing high school (grade 12). Many youths do not achieve the marks required to pursue university. Others face challenges while studying that prevent them from completing their chosen qualification.
Number Percentage Any qualification High value
Qualification line graph data
Qualification attainment by population group
Although all population groups have seen an increase in the share with a post-school qualification since 1994, the share within the White and Indian population groups has grown by 15 percentage points while the share within African and Coloured population groups has only increased by 7 percentage points, resulting in a widening gap in post-school attainment between the White and the African and Coloured population groups. A goal of 22% qualification attainment highlights the need to address persistent structural challenges faced by historically underserved population groups.
Qualification attainment by gender
Women have slowly closed the post-school qualification gap and a higher proportion of women now have post-school qualifications than men. To meet the goal of 22% attainment by 2030, we need to understand the challenges men face that prevent them from keeping pace with their female counterparts. In addition, to continue to grow the share of women participating in post-school education, we need a better understanding of what is driving the gender wage gap. Women, including graduates, continue to be paid lower wages than men in the labour market.
Qualification attainment by age group
All age groups have seen growth since 1994, with the highest growth seen among people in the oldest age group. The attainment level among 15-24 year olds remains low, a result of delayed high school completion and post-school enrolment and has seen the least growth. As a result, the post-school qualification gap between age groups has widened. Increasingly, youth are competing against a relatively more skilled older group. Increasing post-school attainment is an important way to boost youths’ prospects in the labour market.
Chloropleth map data
Qualification attainment by province
Levels of attainment vary across the provinces, with the economic centres of Gauteng and the Western Cape having the highest share of residents holding a post-school qualification. While the share with qualifications was similar in these two economic centres until 2007, Gauteng has pulled ahead of the Western Cape. In 2020, 19% of Gauteng residents had qualifications compared to 15% of residents in the Western Cape. In the last ten years, other provinces that have seen above average growth in attainment are Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Free State.
Interested in learning more about post-school education research in South Africa? View related research by the Siyaphambili post-school research group in the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU).