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How to Bridge South Africa’s Skills Gap

Higher education is usually seen as a way for individuals and families to improve their economic status. Research shows, though, that graduates can remain unemployed for up to a year. In developing countries, in particular, the labour force is often growing faster than the labour market. Graduate unemployment remains a reality for many in South Africa. The most recent figures from Statistics South Africa put the graduate unemployment rate at 31% in the first quarter of 2019. Among the reasons for the unemployment rate are the needs and expectations of the labour market and the quality of graduates leaving higher education institutions. Research into graduate work readiness has shown that there’s a gap between what universities produce in their graduates and what employers expect. Researchers propose that the learning process should be created through collaboration between the student, the host organisation (which is often the potential employer) and the higher education institution. This will help develop skills that are specific to an industry. Work-integrated learning thus proved to be a crucial part of our programme. It’s an approach that has been followed successfully in many countries but there’s still much to be done to standardise it in South Africa.