Figures from South Africa show unemployment rose by three per cent in May, as demand from Europe and Asia fell.
The transport and mining sectors were the worst hit, with 12 per cent fewer jobs available last month.
As a result of the unpredictable demand from foreign markets, employers rarely offer full-time jobs to their employees and competition is harsh.
The general-secretary of the national union of metal workers believes South Africa must take measures to ensure the country is not dependent on outside forces.
Al Jazeera's Tania Page reports from Johannesburg.