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at around 53%, and low­est for those with a ter­tiary qual­i­fi­ca­tion at around 8%,” she ex­plains.



Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, the next step is to seek em­ploy­ment. New grad­u­ates are nor­mally eager to put into prac­tice what they have learnt. But, life out­side var­sity is dif­fer­ent. Ac­cord­ing to Bran­don Biyela, re­cruit­ment spe­cial­ist from Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, em­ploy­ers ex­pect grad­u­ates to be ef­fi­cient in com­mu­ni­ca­tion, ap­pli­ca­tion of knowl­edge in real-world set­tings, com­plex prob­lem solv­ing, eth­i­cal de­ci­sion mak­ing and work well in a team. “We are look­ing for grad­u­ates who are highly com­pet­i­tive and ready to be part of the work­force. There­fore, uni­ver­si­ties should en­sure that their cur­ricu­lum is in line with cur­rent work­place trends, and should ex­pose stu­dents to prac­ti­cal real-life work ex­pe­ri­ence while still study­ing. This makes it easy for em­ploy­ers to ap­point suitable peo­ple, and even eas­ier for grad­u­ates to be em­ploy­able,” he says. Zikhona Sakhela, a 26-year-old grad­u­ate from the Wal­ter Sisulu Uni­ver­sity in the East­ern Cape, has been un­em­ployed since com­plet­ing her pub­lic af­fairs bach­e­lor of ad­min­is­tra­tion de­gree in 2013. She is aware of the eco­nomic is­sues in the coun­try and po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity that re­sult to job scarcity. But, she at­tributes her strug­gle to her lack of work ex­pe­ri­ence. “Em­ploy­ers are on the look­out for ex­pe­ri­enced em­ploy­ees who don’t need train­ing,” she says. To avoid sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions, in­sti­tu­tions such as the Cape Penin­sula Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (CPUT), of­fer ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing or co­op­er­a­tive ed­u­ca­tion.

This, ac­cord­ing to CPUT’s co­op­er­a­tive ed­u­ca­tion ad­min­is­tra­tor, Nelisiwe Qok­weni, is a phi­los­o­phy of learn­ing based on a part­ner­ship be­tween the in­sti­tu­tion and work in­dus­tries, whereby the com­mon ob­jec­tive is to pro­vide en­hanced learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in the work­place. “In essence, this is a three-way part­ner­ship in which stu­dents al­ter­nate aca­demic study with pe­ri­ods of work ex­pe­ri­ence un­der the su­per­vi­sion of men­tors and aca­demic staff from the in­sti­tu­tion,” she ex­plains. Ar­i­ane says ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion fails to pro­vide enough skills and in­for­ma­tion that’s needed to progress into ter­tiary and into the labour mar­ket. “In ad­di­tion to the prob­lems that have their roots in the ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor, eco­nomic growth has been slow; it grew by 1.3% in 2017. Where growth has oc­curred, it has been in sec­tors such as agri­cul­ture and min­ing, and not all grad­u­ates find en­try into those sec­tors due to limited ca­pac­ity. Lastly, em­ploy­ers may be re­luc­tant to hire grad­u­ates from in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing that they per­ceive as of­fer­ing lower qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion. So, it would be the

With the rapid rise of un­em­ployed youth in South Africa, the ques­tion must be asked if in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing are do­ing enough to pre­pare grad­u­ates for real life.

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