According to a quarterly labour force survey released by Statistics South Africa last year, there are over 430 000 unemployed people in South Africa, and an estimated 58% of them are between 15 and 34 years old. Stats SA says the unemployment rate still remains at a high 7,3% for graduates out of the 433 000 people.
Joining the job-seeking graduates’ line is Mthatha-born Gezile Nyaniso* (23), who has always hoped education would be the key to economic freedom. Along with three of her siblings Gezile was raised by her single, retired teacher mother who paid for their school fees through a series of bank loans, which put her under debt review.
Gezile was an A-student so after matric she got a bursary from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to study for a BA in social sciences at the University of Pretoria. She graduated then completed her master’s degree in development studies in 2016 from the University College Dublin – she received a fully paid scholarship for that. “I also did a Bachelor of information science and master’s degree in international development. One would think that studying overseas would better my chances but it hasn’t,” Gezile says.
Always hopeful and keeping her head up, Gezile is well aware one requires some work experience to be employable and she’s done internships.
“I have two years of work experience. I have been to numerous job interviews, which have been deemed unsuccessful due to me being educated but lacking experience,” she says.
She says she was told by many companies that she’s the perfect candidate but they needed someone with more experience.
“Some of the adverts would clearly state they need an ‘entry-level candidate’ but things would change on the day of the interview,” she says.
Poised and well-presented Gezile has been travelling between Johannesburg and Mthatha looking for work.
“At times I would go back home because I struggle to pay rent and I would have to come back again to Joburg for interviews because there are no jobs in the Eastern Cape either,” she says.
Gezile says she was hoping by now she would be the one sending money home to her parents but instead, she has to sometimes ask her mother and older brother for money to buy food.
“Sometimes I ask myself whether going to university was worth it as others don’t even have a matric but are employed,” Gezile says.
Gezile says she’s been unemployed for almost a year and spends most of her money on the internet and applying for work but she won’t give up.
*Not her real name