You’ve passed matric… now what?

Three options matriculants can use to make themselves more competitive in the job market

This week’s release of the 2021 Grade 12 results will be a cause for celebration but the reality is that many matriculants don’t know what they will do next. For 12 years or more, school has been their world but now adulthood and responsibility are looming – and they will have to make choices that will determine their life path.

Of the 2021 matriculants, a lucky few will go on to study at tertiary institutions. But for the majority, tertiary education is not an option as there isn’t money to fund further studies.

Sean Sharp, the Executive Head of Sales at EduPower Skills Academy, says that entering today’s highly competitive job market is daunting for first-time job seekers.

“The chances that all our matriculants will find a job are slim,” says Sean. “They are competing in a labour market where unemployment is sitting at nearly 35% making the competition for every job fierce. The fact is that two out of every three young people (under 35 years) cannot find work and this rises to three out of four for under-25s.”

With this environment, Sean says matriculants entering the job market should be asking what they can do to make themselves more attractive to prospective employers. His advice: “Now more than ever, it is critical that young people enter the job market with a recognised qualification and practical work experience.”

Sean’s top recommendations for matriculants who can’t afford tertiary education, but who are looking to build the skills that employers require are:

1. Learnerships

A learnership is a work-based learning programme that leads to a qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Generally, a 12-month course, Learnerships are a mix of theoretical training combined with practical work experience that is delivered by an accredited training provider.

These programmes are sponsored by companies and successful candidates will receive a monthly payment called a stipend which covers expenses such as travel and meals. The amount varies depending on the company as well as the academic qualification being completed. Depending on how successful the learner is, there is an opportunity, once the 12-month learnership is completed, to be placed in a permanent role.

2. Bursaries

Bursaries are sponsorships given by companies to qualifying students to further their studies and achieve a qualification. Financially, bursaries generally include payment of academic fees, textbooks, funding for subsistence or accommodation during the period of study as well as stipends.

Most bursary programmes have strict qualification criteria and some bursaries require that the candidates ‘work back’ the bursary amount after the successful completion of their studies.

3. Job Shadow / Volunteering

Another way to secure work experience is through volunteering at a company or organisation. While this is usually unpaid, volunteering can be a positive way to learn new skills and network in a business or non-profit environment. Job shadowing is a learning opportunity to understand the role requirements and tasks of a specific job. A type of on-the-job training, this form of work experience gives prospective or interested candidates the opportunity to follow and closely observe an employee in a specific role. The result? Newly acquired skills, experience, a traceable reference, and if the candidate works hard and has a great attitude, the opportunity to be offered full-time employment.

Sean says that each of these options offer a variety of advantages for matriculants as they contribute to the development of candidates by adding to their employability.

“Ultimately these initiatives are powerful interventions that can be the start of a long and successful career for the candidates. And enhancing an individual’s employability is good for the individual, our nation and our economy,” says Sean.

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