The youth of South Africa need to change their perspective and demand more and better vocational colleges…


01 Jun The youth of South Africa need to change their perspective and demand more and better vocational colleges…

Almost 600 000 people applied to one of the seven top universities in South Africa for the 2017 academic year, but there were only 54,400 first year places available.

In all, between 18% and 25% of matriculants enrol into public universities and teacher training colleges in South Africa every year. About half of the university students drop out in the first year.

This leaves over 500,000 matriculants facing a decision about alternative tertiary institutions and what to do in terms of their careers.

Of those that have graduated from university, according to a Stats SA Community Survey from 2016, involving a total of 2.1 million graduates, 503,096 (24%) are teachers, followed by Business and Economics graduates at 439,719 (21%), 221,121 (10%) are in health and 219,007 (10%) in engineering.

But does not getting into university really paint a dire situation for the youth in South Africa?

“The reality is that only about 30% of Americans, Australians and other populations of first world countries hold a university degree.

It’s not the benchmark for becoming a functional and contributing member of society – in any country. And, it’s not an automatic wealth trigger.” Explains Jane Lyne-Kritzinger, MD of Youth Dynamix (YDx), a youth marketing and research specialist agency in Africa.

“South Africans must stop chasing the illusion that a university degree is everything and focus instead on other equally appealing career opportunities.” Adds Jane.

“High unemployment levels and the lack of skilled tradespeople go hand-in-hand. In a 2015 survey by Manpower South Africa of 750 local businesses, 47% of employers mentioned they couldn’t fill vacancies because of candidates’ lack of technical competencies or hard skills, and 46% cited a lack of available applicants or no applicants at all for the position.” Says Andrea Kraushaar, Research Director at YDx.

“There is a definite demand for trade qualified people all over the world, including right here in South Africa,” Adds Jane.

The average salary of an electrician is R244,535 per annum, a mechanic earns around R238,232, a construction foreman R210,450. Compare this to university degreed jobs like, a primary school teacher’s salary of R168,536, an accountant’s R247,895 and a physiotherapist’s R238,982.

Of course, if you prove yourself to your employer and create value for the organisation you work for, or you start your own business, you can earn more than the average salary when you have skills that are in demand and you’re good at what you do.

Is South Africa ready to embrace career opportunities not offered at university

“It is a fact that there aren’t enough public technical and vocational (TVET) colleges in South Africa. 700,000 students applied to TVET colleges in 2014. Furthermore, a report published by National Treasury last year shows TVET colleges in South Africa are dysfunctional.

There is such an explosion of new careers and career choices that study options should be increasing and not getting smaller.

If the government is serious about reducing the unemployment rate of the youth of South Africa, increasing and improving the number of TVET colleges is the perfect opportunity.” Adds Andrea.

But what about those who can’t afford tertiary education?

“There is a definite opportunity for corporate South Africa to introduce on-the job training for jobs that would improve the lives of their staff and customers alike, and make South Africa a better place for all.

Take for example one defined segment i.e. schools; there are several much-needed positions requiring trained individuals to assist our school going youth and their families. Considering 62.9% of mothers work, there is much need for skilled traffic controllers near schools, after school child-carers, cooks, sports coaches, study tutors, drivers and family assistants to aid with shopping and appointments.” Adds Jane.

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