Advice: Young, energetic and sitting at home

2012-08-07 07:07

Ronald Nkholo asks ...
I am a 28-year-old guy and completed my N6 in the field of building and civil engineering at the Central Johannesburg College in 2009.

I am still struggling to find a company that is willing to help me with the practical component of my qualification, however.

I have personally submitted my CV to big and small construction companies without any luck. I have even contacted some telephonically, but nothing has happened. I have also applied for internships/learnerships at various companies and government entities, also without luck.

At this point in time I have despaired and am running out of ideas. What can I do?

It boggles the mind to read that according to a study of the department of higher education this country is in need of artisans/labourers in the technical trade whereas there are large numbers of unemployed energetic young South Africans like me sitting at home.

Expert answer: Kgomotso Gunya
Dear Ronald
I can understand your frustration and despair as the process of job hunting can be very challenging and stressful.

I am wondering what is it that you have been doing from 2009 to acquire experience and skills that are important for your career path?

Skills are very important to prospective employers.

In your letter you say you have been applying and nothing materialised – it is important to follow up on your applications.

Experience is also important and cannot be bought; make a plan of action to get some and gain the skills that are needed in your industry.

Volunteering your services free of charge can be a good way of gaining experience and building up contacts.

There are important tools when applying for jobs, which need to be up-to-date. These tools include a cover letter, Curriculum Vitae (CV) and job hunting skills.

When these are properly structured they can give you an interview opportunity. Before submitting your applications the following is important to keep in mind:

Structure your CV properly and include only the experience and skills the prospective employer is looking for, and

Research the skills and competencies currently required by your industry and ensure your CV reflects them.

Below is additional information to help you with your CV and cover letter:

A CV should always have a cover letter, not a cover page;

» A cover letter should be well structured and addressed to a named individual;

A cover letter should clearly demonstrate your value and communicate what you can offer to the company;

Tailor your CV for every job application;

Have the job advert at hand when structuring your CV for every job you apply for;

Avoid using slang, abbreviations and check for spelling and grammatical errors;

Your CV should not be more than two pages long, and include relevant information only;

Your CV should show growth and direction;

Follow up on your applications;

Get involved and network;

Polish your job hunting and networking skills

Lastly, you can also visit institutions that offer career guidance and assist with job seeking, for example the department of labour.

Expert answer: Dazerene du’n Plessis
Dear Ronald,
I empathise with your feeling of frustration. After the completion of the World Cup projects and with the downturn in the economy, work in the construction industry has decreased tremendously.

As a result some companies have had to downsize and retrench some of their employees.

The suggestions I offer below are in addition to what Ms Gunya has already recommended:

» It is important to gain practical experience. Volunteering your services to companies will definitely help. In this regard you should also approach the smaller, emerging contractors for possible placement.

Bodies that help students with practical experience include the following:

The Construction Industry Development Board, which runs a program in which they place students on construction sites for practical exposure from time to time. You can submit your application to them;

The Construction Education and Training Authority. You can contact them for possible leads on companies who are placing students; and

There is currently a national drive, supported by the Minister of the Department of Higher Education, to train artisans. You could also consider one of the artisan routes in the industry.

I agree with Kgomotso in suggesting you follow up on applications – this shows commitment and interest. Show prospective employers why they should hire you by demonstrating what differentiates you from all the other unemployed students.

I wish you well in your efforts to find placement and fulfilling your dreams.

» About Kgomotso Gunya
Gunya is a Registered Counsellor under the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

She obtained her Honours in Psychology at the North West University and her BA degree in Behavioural Sciences. She completed her internship in career counselling with the University of South Africa (Directorate for Career Counselling and Academic Development).

Gunya is currently a Career Consultant in the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Psychological Services and Career Development (PsyCaD).

» About Dazerene Du Plessis
Du Plessis is the national training adviser for the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors.

Prior to joining SAFCEC she worked at Grinaker-LTA and Murray & Roberts where she was involved with the bursary programme and placement of students.

She has over fifteen years experience in training in various industries and eight years in the construction industry.

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