Thursday, September 2, 2010

Will your hard earned Certificate / Degree get you the job THEY promised ?

The cost of education per student for a degree course is approximately – R 60 000.00 per year excluding the cost of books, travelling, food and clothing. Translating into approximately R 240 000.000 over a four year period.

Often students change courses a year or two into the programme, some drop out, or worse some persevere and graduate after 5 or 6 years. Only to find that the promised utopia of a well paying job and security is replaced by unemployment. With savings exhausted parents have to contend with angry, disillusioned young people with fractured self esteems, this in itself is a hotbed for other social problems.

The problem is not uniquely South African – similar trends exist elsewhere in the world but South Africa is still in a transformation phase and seems to suffer from this phenomenon more acutely.

Before 1978, China had a centrally planned economic system but that year, a market economy was introduced and the country opened its doors to foreign investment. Higher education, however, did not take account of this market-oriented policy and, even today, new enrolments at almost all levels are first arranged by universities and colleges and then approved by governments at various levels, often without a survey of market needs.

With demands in the job market changing constantly, the tension created by the gap between the supply of graduates and the demand of employers has intensified. Consequently, too many graduates have majored in accounting, Chinese language and literature, law and computer science, whereas jobs in these fields are limited. At the same time, many companies cannot find qualified employees working in specific technical fields..

Unemployment among graduates grew from 6.6% in 1995 to 9.7% in 2005, wrote researchers Kalie Pauw, Morné Oosthuizen and Carlene van der Westhuizen in a DPRU working paper titled Graduate unemployment in the face of skills shortages: A labour market paradox.

Yet it appears that graduates are not always employable. A survey by the DPRU of 20 of South Africa’s top companies revealed that they were not always able to use graduates to meet their skills requirements because:

- Graduates have the qualifications but not always the practical skills and experience.
-  The wrong types of graduates are being produced: there are too few technical graduates.
-  Frequently graduates are not suited to fill shortages at the management level.
-  Skilled staff are often poached by other companies or emigrates.
-  Graduates are not always of high enough quality.

Also contributing to graduate unemployment are oversupplies of graduates with diplomas or certificates rather than degrees. Also, there are too many commerce degree-holders (who account for 28% of jobless graduates) and an oversupply of black African graduates, whose numbers have grown massively and who accounted for 85% of the tertiary unemployed in 2005

So is it worth the slog ?

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