To be successful in life is one of the many things people desire. But as we know, the road to get there has many struggles and difficulties. One of those difficulties occurs during the transition phase from graduation to moving into the work environment. Many graduates face unemployment across all fields of study. Today, finding employment after you obtain your degree is not an easy task. However, this article is not to overload you with dire statistics of unemployed youth, and frighten you about what you thought would be a certain future. Rather, think about this article as your secret guide to assist you in the world out there. What many people don’t realise is that finishing your studies won’t get you very far. Today, your passion, involvement, hard work and resilience is what will.
Tafadzwa Sandulani and Mikhail Smith have recently graduated and now both work in the IT department of a company called, Intelli Mali. Both hold the position of Junior Java Developer. So, you think to yourself, both are graduates and now have a nice job, how easy right?
No, that isn’t the case.
Both men have faced difficulties coming into the workplace and trying to find jobs after graduating. Mikhail admits it was difficult to find a job after graduating, “most companies in my field require experience as a job requirement”. This is just one of the many struggles in finding a job.
Even though both have qualifications in Information Technology or Computer and Information science, they come from different fields of life. Tafadzwa is originally from Zimbabwe and moved to South Africa in search of better work opportunities in his field of expertise. Mikhail was born and bred in the city of Cape Town, South Africa.
Besides the struggle of jobs requiring tons of experience. A few reasons for not being able to attain a job are, the lack of job opportunities and minimum wages. Which prevent employers from employing staff at a rate that both parties would be prepared to work or pay for.
In South Africa, these are the struggles thousands of youth face. According to Trade Economics, there is a 26.5% unemployment rate in South Africa.
The unemployment rate has decreased from last year. However, this isn’t entirely good news. As the graph depicts, the unemployment rate has drastically increased in the last months of 2016 from what it had been between 2014 and 2015. Last year, Mduduzi Manana, the Deputy Minister of Higher Education stated that there were 600 000 unemployed graduates in South Africa, and that if the number increased it would cause chaos.
As a graduate how do you ensure that you won’t become part of the “chaos” and furthermore, prevent that chaos from occurring? There definitely is a solution. From the secret guide, there are two heavily important pointers on how to improve your chances on getting a job. Firstly, the importance of involvement and secondly, acquiring the “professional skill set”.
The involvement refers to getting involved in internships and volunteer programmes that help you gain a range of skills. Tafadzwa struggled with finding programmes or internships in his field of study. He went on to create a service in which he developed websites for people for free, “I can’t say there were programmes I did but just that I was teaching myself skills I thought would be useful,” he explains. Here we see the initiative Tafadzwa took into learning and developing his skills. This indicates the drive and passion he has and shows how hard he worked to get there. This is what the employers are seeking. So, instead of sleeping in whole weekend, join internships or programmes that’s nearest to you. It only benefits you in the end. Additionally, it provides the experience you need as the jobs require of you.
“The step from a university to the working environment is pretty big, my main adjustment was the attitude and formality change I had in university to how I need to carry myself now. The work environment you need to complete the task at hand otherwise jobless is an option”
The second pointer, is what I have deemed as a professional skill set. What this means is that, the work place is a very professional environment. The skills required from you can range from interpersonal communication skills, interview skills, punctuality, people skills and requires something as simple as knowing how to draw up a CV properly without any spelling mistakes. You’d think these skills would be easy enough to develop but, coming from university or college into the work setting requires a big adjustment in your etiquette and behaviour that you had been accustomed too in your varsity days.
Mikhail had been honest enough to admit his struggle to this adjustment, “the step from a university to the working environment is pretty big, my main adjustment was the attitude and formality change I had in university to how I need to carry myself now. The work environment you need to complete the task at hand otherwise jobless is an option” he said.
Employers regard these skills more crucial to the job than your actual degree. These are the attributes they specifically look for when choosing applicants. In fact, 93% of employers deem critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills as more important than a candidate’s field of study. This was based on a survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities
And yes, facing unemployment is a scary outlook for the future and is probably on your mind if you’re near to finishing your studies. But don’t lose hope. Start getting involved in programmes and always keep the “professional skills set” in mind.
This is what got Mikhail and Tafadzwa where they are today. Even though they came from completely different backgrounds and faced many different struggles, they both managed to get a job. The services manager, Mark Volmink, at Intelli Mali who manages the internship programme explains that, Tafadzwa came in as an intern with not much experience but has proven himself as someone willing to learn, has a good attitude, good work ethic and because of that they had offered him a permanent position in the company. That just shows, following these pointers can be so rewarding.