SA’s educated failures

2007-12-07 00:00

Unemployment among graduates will be a sustained phenomenon if government and the private sector do not partner to handle the situation.

The growing number of unemployed graduates stems from a number of elements. There is, of course, a structural element that follows the legacy of apartheid. People were not exposed to fields of study other than those that qualified them to become teachers, soldiers, nurses and lawyers.

Now, globalisation and advancing technology have made the world a very new and very small place.

The challenge is to integrate historically excluded people into the mainstream economy, taking into account the competitiveness of the environment and the impact of inequalities. As a start, the government must quicken the pace of its plan of action to improve the schooling system.

At schools, the government needs to ensure that career guidance is encouraged because it will open pupils’ eyes about opportunities they can pursue and what the labour markets want.

My mother asked my younger brother about the career path he was thinking of pursuing if he completed matric successfully. To the amazement of everyone, his answer was that he wanted to be a white person. Mind you, he was only in Grade 7, but according to him, he was correct because all he wanted in life was to be able to afford the things he needed. Hence he reached the conclusion that to live a better life you needed to be white.

This problem of unprepared graduates continues well after people pass matric. They go into tertiary institutions which really are just money making schemes. And the sad part is that the government has joined this party.

The model that banks use when granting credit is based on the assurance of getting the money back, hence they require security. However, when the government through the Negotiations Forum for South Africa (Nefsa) issues loans for students’ studies, the officials don’t check the probability of the student getting a job afterwards to pay back the money. That is why we have shortages of skills in the accounting, engineering and investment sectors, among others, yet we have a lot of students with management — and other disciplines — diplomas, degrees and certificates.

It is better to be a non-degree holder than to have a degree that is not in demand because you don’t only waste your time studying, but you don’t waste your money either.

Of course, this too has resulted in a number of institutions offering short-term courses which exacerbate the unemployment problem.

In conclusion, career guidance at school and university supported by the private sector’s willingness to mentor new graduates is the key to increasing employment in South Africa.

— News24.

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