Jobs pain after matric

Johannesburg : School’s out for the class of 2015, but the struggle to find a job is only just beginning, with a bleak future ahead for as many as 60% of matriculants who will not easily find paid employment.

Most available jobs are at the low end of the service industry, such as restaurants and cleaning work. Job seekers with a “good” matric, which included maths and science, will find it marginally easier to find work, but this year will be an especially tough one for most according to experts.

Fewer than four out of every 10 matriculants will find work the CEO of debt management firm Debt Rescue, Neil Roets says. “This reality means that at least 500 000 unemployed youths will be joining the ranks of the unemployed this year,” he said. The past five years had seen a steady increase in the number of jobless young people, Roets said.

“If we take into account the number of workers who have given up looking for a job, the actual unemployment figure in SA is probably close to 40% (as against the official figure of 25%),” he said. He said that the job market was far tighter now than it had been for years and only candidates with “decent symbols and desirable subjects such as maths, science and accounting” stood a real chance of getting employed early in the year. Many of these matriculates will be competing for jobs along with recently graduated students as well as “5.4 million of the country’s unemployed”, Statistics South Africa’s latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey revealed.

On the brighter side Minister of Education Angie Motshekga said the gateway subjects – mathematics and physical science – had shown an increase in the actual number of passes although the pass percentage had decreased.

Roets proposed that a typical scenario would be that a matriculant could end up with a low-paying job at a fast food outlet or something similar. He warned against being lured into taking loans that would be difficult to pay back. Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions, said matriculants should consider pursuing a degree or diploma that is in line with South Africa’s market needs.

The national scarce skills list indicated that the most in-demand workers include engineers, programme or project managers, financial managers, nursing professionals, plumbers, primary school maths teachers and forestry technicians.

Consultancy PwC said those who have freshly graduated often lack practical knowledge and experience but very often expected to climb the corporate ladder quickly. Vittee said youngsters needed to understand that they would have to start “at the bottom and work their way up”. Ina van der Merwe, CEO of South African background screening company Managed Integrity Evaluation, warned against desperate attempts by matriculants who didn’t get high scores to falsify their matric results.

“Temptation to pad your CV may be heightened. It is quickly becoming standard practice for businesses to screen prospective employees during the hiring process which often includes verifying matric and senior certificate qualifications. “If the company finds that your qualification is fraudulent, you may be found guilty of fraud, face jail time and a criminal record,” she said.

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