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Employment report reveals potential for creative economy job creation, transformation

Over one million, or 6,72% of all South African jobs, are housed in the broader ‘Cultural Economy’. This is according to an employment report released by cultural think-tank, the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) this month.

     New statistical data compiled by Prof. Jen Snowball, SACO chief research strategist and economics lecturer at Rhodes University and Serge Hadisi, an independent economist affiliated to Rhodes University, has highlighted the potential of the creative and cultural industries (CCIs) to drive employment, job transformation and economic growth in the country.
     The study, which used the 2015 Labour Market Dynamics Survey data, mapped employment in South Africa’s CCIs revealed that the ‘Cultural Economy’, which includes cultural and non-cultural practitioners working within South Africa’s creative industry, made up just over 6.7% of all employment in the country.
     The findings were based on people working in sectors traditionally classed as cultural or creative such as fine art, performing art, film, museum, libraries, music, and craft as well as the more commercial sectors such as designers, architects, advertising and computer programming.

CREATIVE CAREERS: A recent mapping report released by the South African Cultural Observatory shines the light on cultural and creative industry employment statistics in South Africa. According to the report 6,72% of all jobs in 2015 were held by cultural and non-cultural practitioners working within South Africa’s creative industry. Arts & Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa spoke to these figures at the SACO 2018 International Conference earlier this month.

Key findings:

  • In 2015, cultural occupations made up 2.52% of all employment in SA
  • Including non-cultural ‘support’ occupations, the CCIs employed 4.2% of all those who had a job in 2015.
  • Altogether, the ‘Cultural Economy’ accounts for an estimated 6.72% of all employment in South Africa.

These percentages, Prof. Snowball insists, highlight the significant contribution that the CCIs have made and continue to make to employment in the country.

Creative Industry Transformation

“A deeper analysis of CCI occupations showed that, while 80% of cultural workers are black Africans, Coloured, and Indian or Asian, White workers are still over-represented in some areas of the sector. This is especially the case in specific domains in which tertiary education is required,” Hadisi said.
     The study highlighted that a lack of access to tertiary education could potentially hinder faster transformation in the CCI’s.
     “More than half of all cultural occupations are held by men (57%). Young women (under 35) are particularly underrepresented in the cultural sector: 34% of cultural workers are young women, compared to 42% of male cultural workers,” Snowball said.
     The report suggests the cause might be the difficulties that younger women – who are more likely to have family obligations – have in working in cultural jobs where working hours may be long and erratic.
     “International studies reveal that cultural and creative occupations potentially offer more precarious employment than non-cultural jobs” Hadisi said.
     According to the report forty-three percent (43%) of cultural jobs are informal and more people work on a freelance or contract basis compared to non-cultural jobs – 32.5% compared to 8.3% respectively.
     Off the back of the SACO data released, the Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa highlighted the potential of the CCI’s to generate creative capital and create jobs in his keynote address at the South African Cultural Observatory’s (SACO) 2018 international conference held in Nelson Mandela Bay earlier this month.
     “CCIs around the globe are rapidly attracting attention as drivers of economic growth, innovation, and job creation. The World Economic Forum’s 2017 report on The Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa listed the creative industries as one of ‘trending’ professions, which had an average growth rate of 7% between 2011 and 2016.
     “Similar growth in South Africa at this level would support the National Development Plan’s aim to create 11 million new jobs by 2030,” Mthethwa said.

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