As matriculants ponder which careers to pursue, warnings are emerging that they should not choose to study courses that have flooded the job market with unemployed graduates.Employment experts are advising young people to consider alternative careers which will make them more employable once their studies, or training courses, are complete.“I wasted my time going to college. I have friends who started working instead. They now have cars and houses, and I am sitting at home with a three-year diploma and no experience.” Siphumelele Nzimande (27), a public relations graduate, is one of many graduates affected by the unemployment crisis.She has been struggling to find a job related to her field of study since she graduated in 2012.Although Nzimande has a public relations diploma, she has only been able to get temporary jobs outside of her field of study. Her job hunt has included sending off hundreds of applications for government posts, although she believes that in order to get a job in the government, you need to know someone.“I’ve reached a dead end. I wish I had studied something like accounting; maybe I would have a job by now. You go to school so you can have a better life but things get tougher after you graduate. I don’t think I’m any different from someone without a qualification,” said Nzimande.Qiniso Hlophe (28), who has an honours degree in policy and development, has been looking for a job for two years.He said it was hard to find jobs straight after university because companies wanted someone with experience.“It is really depressing. I have sent so many job applications and I don’t even get a response, so I don’t know what I am doing wrong,” he said. “I think the government is failing its youth because to get a job in the government, you need to be someone’s daughter or niece.”Department of Higher Education and Training spokesperson Lunga Ngqengele said high school pupils need to be encouraged to train as artisans, as there are more opportunities for plumbers, electricians and mechanics. “Many graduates are still unemployed because they chose careers that are not in demand, for example, communications, marketing, journalism.”Ngqengele said the department is giving opportunities to graduates who are struggling to find jobs.“We use what is called retooling; we take you to college and train you in motor mechanics and plumbing. After that, you are then placed in a work space to gain experience.”He encouraged young people to be flexible about their careers and allow themselves to be retooled if they are struggling to find work in their fields of study.Buhle Khumalo (25), a Mangosuthu University accounting graduate, opted to go back to studying when she struggled to find a job. She is now studying for a second qualification in accounting science while looking for a job. “It’s been difficult. I graduated last year and I’m really struggling to find work. I feel like the accounting job market is flooded. I do get call backs for interviews but I never get the job.”Khumalo is hoping for better opportunities with her extended qualification. “I have a two-year-old child and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme is hounding me to start making my loan repayment.”Duane Barker (24) helps out at his father’s construction company while waiting for an opportunity to get a job in his field of study of sports and recreation management. Barker said most companies want job applicants to have experience. “It is more difficult for me because there aren’t many jobs for my qualification. I looked for internships, but there aren’t many,” Barker said. ‘The government must provide stipends’Earlier this month, unemployed graduates from KwaZulu-Natal under the #HireaGraduate campaign marched to the Union Buildings to demand the government do something about youth unemployment.Unemployed graduates took to the streets to demand jobs from the government. Nkululeko Ndlovu, who was part of the march, said: “The government must try to find a temporary mechanism to try to reduce the unemployment rate. Since the government can’t find means to employ unemployed graduates, it should provide stipends so we can make a living because life is expensive and we are parents.”He said youth empowerment programmes created by the government failed because the people who were supposed to be empowered were not involved in the brainstorming of ideas. “The government must scrap the job requirement of three years of experience,” he said. Stats SA provides the figuresIn October, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said that the unemployment rate increased by 0,3 of a percentage point to 27,5% between July and September.The Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the third quarter of 2018 revealed that the number of employed people increased by 92 000 to 16,4 million, while the number of unemployed rose by 127 000 to 6,2 million. The absorption rate remained unchanged at 43,1%.During the third quarter of 2018, the informal sector recorded employment gains of 188 000, while the formal sector, private households and agriculture, recorded declines in employment.Stats SA said the number of discouraged work-seekers declined by 131 000, while the number of others not economically active persons increased by 65 000, resulting in a decrease of 66 000 in the number of people not in the labour force between the second and third quarters of 2018.The number of employed people declined in seven of 10 industries, but these declines were offset by employment gains in finance and other business services, and the trade and construction industries, which resulted in a net increase of 92 000 in the third quarter of 2018. Labour market is desperate for artisans and engineersBridget Jones, managing director at Pronel Personnel recruitment agency, said that the labour market is desperate for any type of artisans, engineers and competent IT employees.“I also believe we have a serious shortfall of suitable middle-management personnel across all industries. The market is saturated with work seekers from the humanities realm and there is a limited demand for work seekers with these skills sets,” said Jones.She said job seekers who have a well-presented CV that highlights their skills set, with a brief motivation included, have more chance of being noticed.“Given that recruitment has become very online driven, the layout and wording utilised in an individual’s CV carries huge weight,” she said.“Searching for employment can be hugely disheartening. I suggest to people looking for employment that they treat the job search like a job. They need to record their activities and manage their applications in a consistent fashion. I also urge inexperienced individuals to find ways to secure ‘on the job learning’ opportunities by volunteering where possible. There is a job out there for everyone. If you have realistic expectations coupled with an ‘I can do it’ attitude, your career will find you.”The South African Graduates Development Association (Sagda) said that about 433 000 unemployed graduates are languishing at home unable to put into practise what they have learnt.For the 2018 academic year, the Durban University of Technology said it received 7 660 applications for nursing, 5 484 for journalism and 4 471 for hospitality management.The situation at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is similar, with social work, a bachelor of education and nursing remaining the most popular courses. These are some of the courses that make up a large number of unemployed graduates.Jake Willis, CEO of Lulaway, a specialised entry-level recruitment company, said people must not sit and wait for the “perfect” job. “They must take whatever they can and use that as a stepping stone to getting to the perfect job. Almost nobody gets the perfect job at the outset,” said Willis.“A sense of self-reliance is missing in this country. It’s almost like the youth don’t want to do anything unless they have the perfect job. No one is saying you need to give up on your dreams of getting a great job but the idea is to take something and keep looking.”When choosing a career path, Willis advises prospective students to avoid choosing the easiest courses.“The more specific the course is, the more you can almost say you’re guaranteed that you’ll get employment. The generic courses like human resources, finance and general business administration are useful but there are no guarantees for employment,” he said. Dr Linda Meyer, dean of institutional development at Boston City Campus and Business College, who is a specialist in economics, employment and careers, said that the skills sector needs to be wedded to what is required in the economy.“It doesn’t help that you have 100 000 BA graduates who can’t find a job. It’s also a mind-set element for us around what we teach our children.“Why do people think it’s better to have a degree and be unemployed than to start working from day one with a skill where we are contributing to the economy?” she said. ‘No experience necessary’The Department of Public Service and Administration said this week that from April 1 2019, work experience will no longer be a requirement for an entry level job in the public sector.The department said that the initiative is part of the government’s efforts to address the country’s high youth unemployment rate and it is in the process of amending the regulations in this regard, which will take effect at the start of the 2019/2020 financial year. Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said the initiative will enhance the government’s human-resource development capacity, which hopefully will see the high levels of unemployment, especially among the youth, alleviated. The process will also see the removal of unnecessary barriers to entry into the public service and the provision of a platform for new graduates to acquire the required experience in their careers. It will also ensure that new and innovative blood is attracted to the public service. Dlodlo said the changes will not do away with the inherent requirements of professional fields. “This exercise will be structured in such a way that it does not compromise the professional and technical requirements for various fields. All we want to do is streamline career paths and align skills, which will make the public service fit for purpose.” Meanwhile, a paperless administration across the public service and an e-recruitment system will be rolled out from next month. The minister instructed the department to introduce a digital Z83 application form as an additional platform for job seekers in the public service. Processes will be put in place to ensure compliance with the Public Service Act by formally introducing the digital Z83 form through notice in the Government Gazette. The decision to create a digital Z83 form, Dlodlo said, is a direct response to job seekers in SA who have used various platforms, including social media, to inform the minister about how cumbersome and unaffordable the paper Z83 application process is.