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Matriculants Of 2023: Do Your Homework When Navigating The Job Market And Tertiary Institutions

  • 4 min read

By Jennifer Barkhuizen, Head of Marketing, MIE

As the class of 2023 stands on the brink of their academic and professional careers, the effects of South Africa’s load shedding and other post-Covid challenges seem not to have had such a big impact during the matric exams as this year’s cohort improved on last year’s pass rate, increasing from 80.1% to 82.9%.   

The journey to the matric results of 2023 is testament to the resilience and determination of the students, who endured the Covid-19 pandemic for most of their Grade 10 and Grade 11 years while also juggling other socio-economic challenges in South Africa. The national matric pass rate increased from 76.4% in 2021 to 80.1% in 2022, and the class of 2023 continued the upward trend.

Against this backdrop, the choices made by these matriculants regarding further education or entry into the job market will become pivotal. A report by PwC warns of a potential unemployment rate of 40% by the end of the decade if job creation falls short. Economic stagnation, policy paralysis, and load shedding contribute to a gloomy outlook, with GDP growth hovering around 1.5%.

This economic climate directly affects the job market, making it crucial for job seekers, especially the matric class of 2023, to strategically choose careers aligned with sectors experiencing growth. 

The recently unveiled critical skills list (CSL) in South Africa can serve as a useful guide for matriculated individuals or their parents planning their professional paths to fill the gaps in response to the country’s skills shortage. Comprising of 101 occupations, the CSL clearly outlines the skills and qualifications deemed essential in South Africa, whether for work visa applications or permanent residence permits.

In-demand skills include software development, sales, business management, IT, banking, and finance, reflecting the increasing importance of the digital economy. Language skills are also gaining prominence across various fields.

Job seekers are advised to prioritise practical training and skills development, as industries increasingly seek candidates with hands-on experience. Entrepreneurship emerges as a viable path, providing autonomy and the potential to contribute to economic growth. However, aspiring entrepreneurs should equip themselves with innovative ideas, practical skills, and a solid understanding of their target market.

Through establishing their own businesses, young individuals and recent matriculants can attain a heightened level of control over elements such as their work hours, working conditions, and the realisation of their individual financial objectives. The potential for contributing to solutions to South Africa’s staggering youth unemployment rate also highlights the importance and urgency of pursuing entrepreneurship. 

Talking about the big issue of youth unemployment in South Africa, entrepreneurship is in the spotlight. It’s time for both the public and private sectors to think ahead about what youth entrepreneurship looks like. That means considering the skills today’s and tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need to not just get by, but to really make it in the ever-changing world we’re living in.

But as matriculants and their parents prepare for the next step in their academic careers and further education at a tertiary institution, it is important to be aware of “fly-by-night” institutions. The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) warns students and parents to exercise caution regarding illegitimate colleges every year. 

The persistent issue of illegitimate colleges proliferating throughout South Africa during this period remains a significant concern for the DHET. It is critical for students and their parents to ensure that entities offering education and training are accredited. Registration with the Department of Education is mandatory for all education and training providers offering complete qualifications.

Before enrolling in any qualification, make sure you understand the accreditation status. Check if the institution is registered with the Department of Education and accredited by Umalusi or a quality council like a SETA. 

Registration and accreditation are separate processes. Ensure private providers display their registration certificates and ask for the accreditation number. Umalusi’s website lists accredited institutions, and SAQA’s website provides SETA accreditation information.

But while there is the risk of enrolling at a fraudulent or “fly-by-night” institution, businesses and institutions aren’t immune to fraud as well, with MIE’s annual Background Screening Index showing year-on-year that qualifications are the most misrepresented aspects on CVs.

As these matriculants embark on their journeys, the lessons learned from the challenges faced and the opportunities seized will shape not only their individual futures but also contribute to the resilience and growth of South Africa’s workforce. The path ahead may be challenging, but with a focus on education, practical skills, and adaptability to the digital landscape, the matric class of 2023 can succeed in trying circumstances.