Fewer matric examination enrolments can add pressure to existing skills gap

THE 2018 matric results have been released, showing a successful year with an improved pass rate of 78,2%.

While this will lead to a number of matriculants looking to study further or start to enter the working world, what effect can the year-on-year decrease in matric enrolments pose to corporate South Africa?

Michelle Baron-Williamson, CEO of Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), said: “The matric pass rate has shown an improvement over the past few years, synonymous with the hard work and dedication that goes into completing matric, for which the pupils must be commended.

“That said, it must also be noted that the number of pupil enrolments to complete matric has decreased year-on-year since 2016.

“This is creating a slightly skewed perception, as each year there are in fact less pupils who successfully qualify with a matric pass than in the year before.

“And the reality is that this has the potential to add pressure to the existing skills gaps the country is experiencing, with fewer skilled workers qualified for job opportunities, which could have further repercussions that corporates should recognise and be cognisant of.”

In 2017, it was reported that just over 798 000 pupils had enrolled to write the 2017 matric examinations.

This represented a decrease of 37 838 pupils when compared to 2016 figures (which showed that 828 020 individuals registered for the exams). The reported 2018 figure represents a further drop in enrolment numbers, sitting at just over 796,000.

“Despite an increased pass rate, lower enrolment figures result in a decrease in the overall number of pupils who obtain a suitable matric pass necessary to gain entry to university, or to apply for available workplace opportunities.

“The juxtaposition is that this in turn naturally widens the existing skills gap further and adds pressure to an increasing unemployment rate, which is already higher among the youth of the country,” said Baron-Williamson.

Such a reality should point any company that is hiring, in the direction of undertaking the necessary process to verify and check qualifications submitted by prospective candidates seeking employment.

“A widening skills gap can result in corporates frantically seeking specific skills, yet there are fewer available qualified candidates to meet these requirements.

“This has the potential to lead to qualification misrepresentation or fraud, especially in a strained economy,” said Baron-Williamson.

MIE’s experience has noticed that misrepresentation and fraud of qualifications remains high and that the qualification are the most likely aspect of a candidate’s CV or information to contain discrepancies, when compared to other background screening checks. Of the more than 530 000 qualification checks MIE conducted during 2018, over 13% were found to be misrepresented in some way.

“Our research notes that fake or misrepresented qualifications are a growing reality locally.

“And given challenges on finding the right skills and high unemployment rates that equally continue to influence the local employment market, we cannot stress enough the importance of adding qualification verification to stipulated human resources processes.

“While we commend those pupils who have successfully completed matric, and look forward to the value they will add to the workforce and the economy, it must be noted that a lower year-on-year enrolment has the potential to impact the available local workforce, posing certain risks that corporates must consider,” said Baron-Williamson. — Supplied.

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