10 January 2017
With 72.5% of matriculants passing their final examinations in 2016, increasing levels of unemployment, coupled with uncertainty regarding how many new students will be accepted into the country’s universities, 2017 is likely to be a tough year for young job-seekers desperate for employment opportunities.
This is according to Ina van der Merwe, CEO and founder of African background screening market leader, Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), who highlights that while 600 315 of the 828 020 matrics who sat for their grade 12 exams passed, they are not guaranteed easy entry into either the work force or a tertiary institution.
South African Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga announced the 2016 matric pass rate on Thursday the 5th of January 2017, noting that the Class of 2016, which “was the largest cohort, in the history of basic education, to sit for any National Senior Certificate (NSC) in South Africa”.
However, van der Merwe suggests that one needs to look beyond this percentage and delve into how the next few years are likely to play out for these young hopefuls.
Referring to a recent statement by the Department of Higher Education director-general, Gwebs Qonde, who said that around 220,000 matriculates are due to enter higher education in 2017, van der Merwe notes that this may not be the case.
“The #FeesMustFall protests and associated disruptions have left many experts wondering whether there will be enough openings available to new students, noting that if current university students have to add an additional year to their studies, certain courses and accommodation facilities may quickly fill to capacity in 2017.
“This means that elevated numbers of recent matriculants will be looking for alternatives and potentially look to enter the work force. Coupled with an unemployment rate of 27.1% in the third quarter of 2016 – the highest level since 2004 - finding a job in 2017 may prove to be harder than ever before,” she explains.
With this backdrop, van der Merwe says that while desperation to secure a job may be at an all-time high, it is vital for young job-seekers to start off their career on the right foot.
“This ultimately means being honest and working hard. From putting together a great CV and feeling confident about your first interview, to performing to the standard expected of you in your first job, integrity, honesty and working your way up the corporate ladder will get you far,” she says.
Van der Merwe notes her top five tips on what to consider when compiling your CV and going on the job hunt in 2017:
1. Don’t lie or exaggerate
More and more employers are verifying the information candidates include in their resumes. So, if you lie, you will be caught and finding another job will be even harder. Go over your CV and ensure that all information included, from your matric results and the periods you worked for a past employer, to the reasons you left your last job, is correct.
2. Keep it simple
Your CV will be one of hundreds – if not thousands – coming in for a particular job. To stand out for the right reasons, keep your facts short, relevant and to the point.
3. Do your research
While you may be so desperate for a job, any kind ‘will do’, it is essential that you only apply to jobs that are suitable to your skill set, interests and academic results. Read into what would be required of you for a particular vacancy and be honest with yourself about whether you are suited to, or qualified for, the job.
4. Look for opportunities to better yourself
If you are unable to secure a spot in your desired tertiary institution, consider looking for other ways to better yourself (and your chances of a successful career). Some options are gaining experience through internships and volunteering or signing up for verified online courses.
5. Identify potential references
It is easy to vouch for yourself and tell a potential employer how great you are, but when it comes from someone else, it holds more weight. For this reason, consider including a few references in your CV. A good starting point would be past teachers, lecturers or bosses who have worked with you in a similar setting. Remember, these references will probably be checked so ensure you chat the people you would like to refer to beforehand.