‘How I saved R70 000 while in university – just to meet my industry’s job requirements’

Lakhe Thwala is a journalism graduate.
Lakhe Thwala is a journalism graduate.
Supplied/Lakhe Thwala

According to BusinessTech, South Africa’s unemployment rate has climbed to 30,1% and with the youth, including graduates, making up 63,4% of that number, job seekers have had to find ways to stand out from the rest.

With the demands of employment constantly changing from just having a qualification to having work experience to now requiring applicants to have their own cars, it is becoming increasingly difficult for graduates to find employment.

But for 23-year-old journalism graduate Lakhe Thwala, from Tembisa, giving up was not an option as he was willing to do all it takes to meet today’s job requirements.

He tells DRUM how he managed to save R70 000 from learnerships and get himself a car so he can meet his dream job’s requirements.

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“In 2016, I was doing my first year of journalism at Tshwane University of Technology [TUT] and I knew there were a few opportunities in the field. I knew there were a lot of graduates who were sitting at home with no jobs and I knew I had to have a plan. So, in 2016, I did my research on the requirements of job posts in journalism then decided to start the process of doing my [driver’s] licence. In 2016, I did my learner’s licence then proceeded to do my driver’s licence in 2017. I did both these things with money I had saved from the NSFAS allowance I was getting as a student who is from a disadvantaged background.

“In 2018, I did my PDP [professional driving permit] and was in my final year of my national diploma. Last year I graduated and applied to do my BTech, I also completed that and received my qualification this year. Now that all the academic requirements were out of the way, I was left with two more requirements: work experience as well as having my own car.

“Luckily for me, TUT makes us do practicals in our third year so I had some work experience and I had landed myself a communications learnership at a car rental company. But it is no secret learnerships in South Africa only pay up to R5 000, which is what I was getting. I decided to save most of that money and managed to save R70 000 within nine months of the learnership, which I then used to buy a car.”

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“I did this through saving R4 000 from my stipend each month and from side hustles I had. It took a lot of discipline because my colleagues would be buying food from the cafeteria everyday and I wouldn’t because I knew I had a goal. I’m also in a long-term relationship and would have to fight off the urge to use my savings to spoil my girlfriend. I also refrained from buying expensive clothing such as Levi’s or G-Star Raw jeans just to show off and show that I had a job. I also wouldn’t buy any takeaways for myself.

“My learnership recently ended and although now I’m back to being fully unemployed, I am hopeful I will now get a good job because I meet every requirement of journalism job posts. Having a plan and saving up has also given me a skill that I feel everyone should have in life. I just want people to know that saving and fighting to meet a job requirement is something that is doable for someone who is focused. It does not matter what kind of background you come from, but if you have a plan and are determined to work on it, then you’ll achieve your goals. It’s possible for someone who comes from a township to save and make something out of their lives.”