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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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Okay, so you’ve passed matric but now what?

Published Jan 21, 2022


AFTER having to experience two years of complete chaos and uncertainty in the education sector, this week’s matric 2021 release of results will be a cause for celebration but the reality is that many matriculants are unsure of what to do next.

For more than 12 years (if you count crèche and preschool), school has been their familiar place and their grounding. Now adulthood and responsibility are looming and they will have to make choices that will determine their career path.

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With the matric class of 2021, some will go on to study at tertiary institutions, while for some tertiary education is not an option as there isn’t enough money to fund further studies.

Sean Sharp, 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. 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.”

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Sharp says that with this environment, matriculants entering the job market should be asking what they can do to make themselves more attractive to prospective employers. He advises that it is now more than ever critical that young people enter the job market with a recognised qualification and practical work experience.

Here is Sharp’s advice for matriculants who cannot afford tertiary education but are looking to build lucrative skills for the job market.

1. Learnerships

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A learnership is a work-based learning programme that leads to a qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Learnerships are generally a 12-month course and 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 that covers expenses such as travel and meals. The amount varies depending on the company, as well as the academic qualification being completed. If the learner is successful in those 12 months, they could be placed in a permanent role.

2. Bursaries

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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.

And the result is 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.

Sharp adds 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.”