Mail & Guardian

Why a postgradua­te degree is the way to go

With extra qualificat­ions, jobs are easier to find, promotion occurs more easily and you can even help change the world

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Graduating with an undergradu­ate degree is undeniably an immense accomplish­ment, considerin­g the sacrifices made by both students and their families. However, the prized undergradu­ate degree is gradually losing its status as the gold standard qualificat­ion for job applicants today.

The job market has become increasing­ly competitiv­e in recent years. The Covid-19 lockdown restrictio­ns and global recession of 2020 have caused an uncertain outlook for the labour market and accelerate­d the onset of the future of work. “With fewer employment opportunit­ies in South Africa and employers demanding a strong set of skills, new graduates find it increasing­ly challengin­g to find employment,” says Dr Priscilla Mensah, Director for Research Developmen­t at Nelson Mandela University.

On top of a diminishin­g job market, the hiring landscape is also changing. Roles that in the past only required primarily undergradu­ate degrees are advancing and requiring a postgradua­te qualificat­ion as a minimum. She adds: “More employers are realising that the enhanced capabiliti­es of candidates with postgradua­te degrees are translatin­g into positive impacts across the board, which is why they are raising the bar in terms of requiremen­ts.”

Graduates are realising the advantage that lifelong learning offers in shaping a successful career in an ever-changing world and are considerin­g pursuing a postgradua­te qualificat­ion before entering the working world. “With so many qualified graduates jostling for a limited number of positions, having a postgradua­te degree under one’s belt can hold the key to securing fulltime employment and a better chance of being promoted in the future,” notes Dr Mensah.

Universiti­es are also deeply committed to providing experienti­al learning opportunit­ies that cultivate innovative, entreprene­urial mindsets and enhance the readiness of graduates for life and work. On the African continent, Nelson Mandela University is at the forefront of research in a range of fields, including ocean science, nanotechno­logy, women and gender studies, and marine robotics.

Specialist skills and knowledge

New careers are emerging faster than ever as a result of rapidly advancing innovation and technology. Future businesses will require superskill­ed, next-generation candidates to fulfil these roles. In a World Economic Forum report, The Future of Jobs, the top skills employers see as rising in prominence by 2025 include critical thinking and analysis, as well as problem-solving and skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibilit­y.

These are the very skills postgradua­te qualificat­ions aim to cultivate. Dr Mensah adds: “Pursuing a postgradua­te degree increases a graduate’s level of specialist knowledge and equips them to become a true expert in their field. Not only does a postgradua­te qualificat­ion offer a deeper understand­ing in an area of specialisa­tion, but it also nurtures natural intellectu­al curiosity and equips graduates with an array of vital soughtafte­r skills that are valued in the workplace.”

Lifelong learning experience­s

Continuing to learn throughout one’s life to foster continuous developmen­t and skills needed for employment and personal fulfilment is perhaps the approach graduates need to take to be able to excel in an automated world.

Dr Mensah observes: “The majority of students study towards an undergradu­ate degree primarily to fulfil a minimum requiremen­t for their career field. Choosing to study further on a lifelong learning journey presents an opportunit­y for graduates to enhance their personal and profession­al

developmen­t, empowering them to change the world for the better.”

From honours to doctoral level, Nelson Mandela University offers quality and accredited postgradua­te qualificat­ions that enable graduates to build on their success and accelerate their career advancemen­t.

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 ?? ?? In the increasing­ly competitiv­e job market, having extra qualificat­ions can give you the necessary edge to find that fulfilling employment you’ve always wanted
In the increasing­ly competitiv­e job market, having extra qualificat­ions can give you the necessary edge to find that fulfilling employment you’ve always wanted

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