Matriculants making bad choices

Johannesburg - Last year half of all matriculants failed and already only around 7% are likely to find work, while a quarter million graduates are without jobs according to StatsSA. And a bleak economy means that the capacity for young people to find work is increasingly bleak.

"Too many young people are not receiving guidance from their parents, teachers or university counsellors when choosing study courses," Liza van Wyk, CEO of management training and business support company BizTech said.

"Young people are selecting easy courses at school and then can't get into university and battle to qualify for a decent diploma course.

After that it's all downhill, they join the growing ranks of South Africa's unemployed and unemployable. Economic conditions are going to be tough for the next five years Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has warned, parents have to get involved in ensuring their children have business related courses of which maths is the most important, otherwise their children won't have a chance of a job."

The human resources director of a major healthcare company agreed. "I've sat for three days going through CV's and the problem starts with CV's, we don't want CV's longer than two pages. If we want more information we'll ask for it. But we get too many CV's of 10 or 15 pages, if you have just left school it is impossible to have such a long CV.

"I've stopped reading the whole CV, I go straight to matric results and am dismayed to see how many students don't have maths but have subjects like Biblical Studies and Home Economics. We won't even give a learnership to those young people. "

'Dismal selection of matric courses'

She said they were concerned at how many graduates were applying for learnerships, "these are clearly desperate people who can't find work and it means the R100 000 or so parents spent in university fees are wasted.

We've also noted a trend of many people who have done one learnership, applying for a second learnership - we won't take anyone if they've already done one learnership. Learnerships are job preparation, not a career path."

Yet another recruiter for a major financial institution said that "of 51 CV's I looked at today, as an example, only six were suitable for learnerships, the rest had a dismal selection of matric courses. Of those six, I've done three telephone appraisals and they will come for interviews.

The three other potentials listed phone numbers that are never answered or that sound as though they have been discontinued, we try three times then give up."

Van Wyk quoted United States president-elect, Barack Obama who said in a speech earlier this year "Go into any inner-city neighbourhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach our kids to learn - they know that parents have to teach, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectation and turn off the television sets."

She said: "too many parents of children of all races are abdicating responsibility to find out what the workplace wants, what trends they can expect in the years ahead and guide their children into appropriate matric subject choices or university courses.

'Confidence in an interview is vital'

Unfortunately in our country many parents have not been to university themselves and so feel they cannot make an input into the courses their children choose. We need better career guidance counselling from tertiary institutions but it is clearly not happening in ways that benefit young graduates."

Van Wyk said another serious problem many young graduates and school leavers experienced was a failure in being assertive, "confidence in an interview is vital.

"Assertiveness is important in the workplace as you need to be able to ask others for things that you need to be able to do your job. All of us have dependencies on others in the workplace. Also, you need to be able to say "no" appropriately in the workplace and this requires a certain level of assertiveness.

If you cannot say "no" you undertake tasks which you should not be doing and which will make it difficult for you to have the time to do your job well. It also creates tremendous frustration in individuals which can end up blowing up into a much larger incident because the problem has been allowed to build up and fester.

"Many people mistake aggressiveness for assertiveness but the two are very different. When you are assertive you are requesting what is in your rights to request and it is done respectfully while when you are aggressive you are at times demanding what is not justifiably yours and it is usually done in a manner that is disrespectful and often threatening.

Assertiveness fosters continued mutual respect between parties while aggression does not.

"It's important that employers help new recruits bridge the gap with training early on to prevent problems developing in the workplace."

- Sapa


LIZA VAN WYK, CEO, BIZTECH  082 466 8975 or 0861 249 8324 or