When you graduate?...

2014-03-29 00:00

A GROWING number of graduates in South Africa are finding it difficult to secure permanent jobs.

According to research from the Centre for Development and Enterprise, which was published last year, the number of university graduates in the labour market grew from 463 000 in 1995 to 1,1 million in 2011.

“Despite this rapid rise, few people with university degrees are unemployed — just under five percent in 2011,” research said.

The study found that younger graduates are more likely to be unemployed than older graduates.

According to a Unilever representative, like any other company, it faces many challenges when it comes to attracting the right talent.

“Often graduates, having recently completed their qualifications, are unaware of what to expect in the world of work and do not transition effectively,” said the representative.

Unilever recruits between 30 and 40 graduates each year across functions, and targets people below the age of 30.

BP SA spokesperson Glenda Zvenyika said the company offers various opportunities for young graduates who have completed a degree or diploma, such as work-place experience, graduate programmes and future leaders’ programmes.

She said a problem that BP SA faces is that there is a “war for talent”.

“Recruitment standards have further been raised of late across the board, intensifying the fight for a shrinking pool of talent.

“Many companies, like us, will look for those who have excelled academically in their chosen field, therefore narrowing the pool to select from, regardless of the level,” she told Weekend Witness.

In 2013, BP SA recruited 18 graduates from South Africa and seven graduates from Mozambique for its graduate programmes, and took on board five advanced-degree holders for its “future leaders programme”.

BP SA scouts for graduates who have the required qualifications, with a minimum of a 65% academic average, and who are eligible to work in the country or in Mozambique.

She advised graduates to do research on the company they are applying to, to help work out whether it really is the type of company they want to be affiliated to.

“It is also important that you remain open-minded about the types of opportunities that come your way, because you never know where they may lead you,” Zvenyika added.

Eskom spokesperson Andrew Et­zinger said that Eskom has a number of programmes that it has adopted for young, graduated professionals.

These range from the Eskom Power Plant Engineering Institute (EPPEI), which is a research programme for young professionals to be trained as specialists, to young professionals’ career-development programmes.

The parastatal is targeting 5 990 young professional “learners” for the 2014/2015 financial year, said ­Etzinger.

His tips for youngsters are, do well at school, have a good work-life balance, compile a professional CV and do research on the company that you are going to be interviewed by.

He also believes in being trained in interviewing and self-marketing skills.

“Keep trying and never, ever give up hope,” he added.

WHILE Mandla Dindi, a bachelor of chemistry and physics graduate from Richards Bay, is waiting for the door of opportunity to open for him, he teaches maths at a high school.

The 23-year-old completed his four-year degree at the University of Zululand and did not anticipate that things would be so difficult, considering that South Africa is in need of scientists, he said.

Dindi said that he has lost count of the job applications he has sent to companies. Last year, he got a call from a principal at a school in Pongolo to teach maths. Having finished varsity, sitting at home and without a job, he could not refuse the offer. He now stands before scores of pupils and shares his mathematical knowledge, and is study­ing towards a postgraduate certificate in education through Unisa. “I actually don’t know anyone who studied science who is working,” he said, when asked where his university peers are.

Dindi is now thinking of going back to university to study further, to up his chances of securing employment in his field. “I thought it was going to be easier.

“Companies are looking for people who have at least five years’ experience. Unfortunately, there is no shop where one can buy experience.”

He would like to see the public and private sector work to create more employment opportunities to increase chances of getting experience for graduates. He said that even though he is enjoying the challenge of being a teacher, he is more passionate about what he studied — chemistry and science.

NATALIE King (27) from Umthinzini said that if you’re in matric and young, make sure you’re really sure about what you want to study.

King graduated from Rhodes University with a degree in environmental science in 2008.

But the journey of pursuing her dream career hasn’t been smooth sailing. She had a six-month stint as an intern at the Department of Environmental Affairs. But that was it —it was just for six months and her contract wasn’t renewed.

King looked everywhere for a job and desperate for a permanent position, she took a job at a hardware store as a bookkeeper. “I applied for jobs in the private sector and there was little feedback.”

She told Weekend Witness that she frequently came across adverts for posts for accountants so she made a switch and is now studying towards a qualification in accounting at Unisa.

She witnessed her friends suffering the same fate and thought she would stand a good chance of getting a job if she studied further. “I thought of doing honours, or getting my masters, but even that doesn’t guarantee me a job.”

King’s advice to younger people is: know what you want, expose yourself to learnerships and experience is everything. “Just because you graduated doesn’t mean you’ll be employed immediately.”

SANDILE Gumede, a journalism student from DUT, has had to learn the hard way. The 25-year-old’s family was expecting him to start supporting them once they saw him graduate. But it wasn’t the case.

“If you graduate, parents expect that you’ll no longer become their burden and that you’ll relieve them of certain responsibilities.”

Gumede, who is from Stanger, has knocked on every media house door, but all of them have been shut tight. He has learnt the hard way that graduation does not gaurantee you a job. “When you apply, sometimes they don’t even acknowledge that they received your CV, or tell you that you were unsuccessful.”

He’s had his bylines in community newspapers but has no permanent job. He is now studying towards his masters, with the hope that he will get a good job. “I’m passionate about journalism, especially politics. After getting a bit of experience, I would like to be a lecturer,” he said.

SHULAMITE Moloi (23) describes herself as a “desperate individual”. A public-relations graduate from Durban University of Technology who lives in Ixopo, she’s still jobless, despite sending out about 60 job applications every week for the past two years, when she graduated.

“My daily routine is to switch on my computer and look for a job, any job,” she said.

“Sometimes I go out with a friend dressed formally and armed with a pile of CVs, to knock on doors.”

Hairdressing keeps the wolf from the door in the meantime — a skill she learnt from her mother and her aunt. “The cheapest job I do costs R100 and I do maybe four a day. But it’s not a permanent option. You can’t go to school for four years and end up doing hair. Some of my friends have sugar daddies but most of them have a child, so they have to have money. At least I don’t have a child, but it’s a common route. It’s easier.”

HILTON-BASED graphic designer and photographer Jono Hornby isn’t looking for a permanent job. “I’m looking for little jobs,” he said. “My experience of full-time employment is that you have to do a lot of work you don’t enjoy. With freelance work you can look for jobs you want to do.”

Hornby (25), who won the R10 000 prize in last year’s True Stories of KZN competition, had a full-time job with an advertising agency after graduating from Durban University of Technology in 2011, but left after a month. “I’ve always done freelance work on the side, so I had a base to start from. I get jobs by networking and hustling. I keep updating my online portfolios and sometimes get work through Facebook. I’m always listening out for opportunities. I’m making enough to survive on, but I don’t know about next month. That’s how it is.”

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