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Matrics of 2022 must be resilient in the face of economic uncertainty and global upheaval, says MIE

2022 matric results show promising signs of turnaround after challenges of Covid-19, lockdowns, power cuts

2022 matric results show promising signs of turnaround after challenges of Covid-19, lockdowns, power cuts  

After an understandably poor set of matric results during the dark days of Covid-19, the class of 2022 has managed to turn the corner significantly, improving the national result and opening the door to better futures. These matriculants, however, now face the prospect of studying further in a field that will be in demand, or entering a job market and economy in a state of flux.

Jennifer Barkhuizen from Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE) says the rise in the Matric pass rate to 80.1% from 76.4% in 2021 is a very positive sign and indicates that the recovery after the devastation of Covid-19 is well on track. These results did not come without challenges.
“The 2022 matriculants did not have the same hard lockdowns to contend with as occurred in the past two years, but they did have to face unprecedented power cuts and related challenges. They must be commended for their hard work and dedication as they took full advantage of being able to return to classrooms, sports fields and friends. They showed clear levels of hard work and dedication as they were faced with unprecedented rolling power cuts during their studies,” says Barkhuizen.  With prospects for SA’s economy remaining bleak, the choice of career is becoming more critical than ever.

A report by PwC  towards the end of 2022 cautioned that SA’s unemployment rate could hit an unprecedented 40% by the end of the decade if only 200,000 jobs a year are created, as this is well short of the 350,000 adults joining the labour force every year. Economic stagnation, policy paralysis and load shedding are all leading to a worsening outlook, with GDP growth down to as little as 1.5%. In similar vein, the World  Bank has also trimmed SA’s economic outlook significantly to 1.9% in 2022 (from a previous estimate of just over 2%) and then to as little as 1.4% in 2023.

“In this climate, those seeking to pursue a career path must ensure they are making the right choice in terms of choosing a tertiary institution. For instance, one of the most important things to look for is accreditation  by making sure the institution and courses are accredited by the relevant governing body,” says Barkhuizen.

With MIE’s annual Background Screening Index showing year-on-year that qualifications are the most misrepresented aspects on CVs, it will be important for companies hiring matriculants or graduates to ensure they do proper background screening checks.
“One blight on the class of 2022 was the major cheating scandal uncovered in Mpumalanga. While isolated, it is alleged to have included quite a few schools and teachers being paid to provide answers, even during the exam they were invigilating. It is a terrible situation and raises the importance for companies hiring to ensure they do proper background and accreditation checks,” says Barkhuizen.

However, those who completed their studies in 2022 without cheating, have many exciting career choices, driven in the main by demand for technological solutions, strong financial and business acumen and engineering innovation.
According to Grabjobs , the top five in-demand skills in 2023 are software development, sales, business management, IT, banking and finance. However, close on their heels includes increased demand for those with language skills across fields like legal, marketing, accounting, education and publishing, while perennial favourites engineering and medicine/nursing come next. Marketing and customer service round out the top 10.

In-demand jobs include agriculture engineer, software engineer, customer support specialist, manufacturing manager, proof-reader, credit manager, office administrator, front-end web developer, logistics manager and junior secondary school teacher.

Many of these trends were also reflected in Career  Junction’s Employment Insights in August last year.. Finance (+9%), IT (+8%) and business management (+5%) all saw increased hiring activity from the previous year.  . While it was reported that there had not been a decline in hiring in any of the sectors covered in the survey, more candidates from the design, media and arts sectors were applying for jobs. Gauteng  and Western Cape  saw the bulk of the hiring activity.

“Salaries vary across sectors quite substantially, with engineering, software and specialist business areas standing out as having the highest salaries in general, though a lot of these surveys exclude professions, where salaries after practical training is completed ratchet up significantly,” says Barkhuizen. 

“Students should also remember that practical training and skills are going to give them a decided edge, whether before, during or after their studies. Choosing programmes with a practical element are increasingly sought after as students can hit the ground running,” says Barkhuizen.

She adds that companies should also look to improve their own practical and apprenticeship programmes, as opposed to just complaining about the lack of readiness of many graduates.
“Many overseas apprenticeships are far superior to what we have in SA and there is a lot of work to be done here to close the gap and open the door to real growth. SA has the potential, skills and talent, and we can overcome the odds if we all work together to take advantage of the modern, connected economy,” concludes Barkhuizen.

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