Young, jobless and desperate – My degree means nothing

2012-06-09 15:45

Hannes Venter (28) from Limpopo, has been looking for a job for the past six years.

Like many young people, Venter says he was naive enough to believe that his degree in international politics was his ticket to a successful career as a diplomat, researcher or academic.

“I finished varsity at 22 and if things had worked according to my plans, by now I would have been a career diplomat for six years.

“It really never occurred to me that having a degree doesn’t actually guarantee you a job. I’m refusing to give up, but the situation is becoming increasingly desperate each day.”

Venter says being white in a country “obsessed” with affirmative action makes his situation all the more difficult.

“There is no government department at which I have not applied for a job.

“There is no internship or learnership that I have not applied for. I have applied for jobs in research institutions, parastatals and everything I can think of.”

He has been shortlisted and called to many interviews, but that is as far as he has gone, leaving him to believe that he was called to “make up the numbers”.

“My friend, I have boxes full of my job applications and they go into the hundreds.

“Whenever I apply for a job I always keep a copy of the application for record keeping.”

Over the past year Venter’s job search has become more frantic as he believes no one will employ him if he reaches 30 without having worked before.

But Venter says he is grateful to his parents, who provide for him.

“Other young people are not that fortunate.

“After being failed by the system they turn to drugs, prostitution and crime. I still have hope that one day I will work and support myself.

“It’s not nice to depend on my parents.”

Venter argues that if companies don’t give young people a chance, they will never gain enough skills to get a job.

“Employers are forever moaning about lack of experience, but where do you get the experience and skills from if you have never worked in your life?”

» Are you young and struggling to navigate the job market? Or about to finish high school and not sure what route to follow to eventually land your dream job? Send your career-related questions to and our panel of experts will tackle them.

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