The current South African job market is brutal – having become increasingly competitive and unpredictable in the face of a volatile global economy, uniquely local constraints, and technological advancements. Jobseekers are struggling to get a foot in the door for the few available positions, and many believe themselves to have hit a dead end.
However with a creative rethink and assessment of their options going forward, jobseekers can in fact set out on a new path with new opportunities, an education expert says.
“In our current dynamic landscape, traditional qualifications alone may no longer suffice to secure stable and rewarding career opportunities. This is where skills courses are making a big difference, by empowering individuals to upskill, cross-skill and re-skill so that they can take advantage of available opportunities,” says Siyavuya Makubalo, Marketing Manager at Oxbridge Academy, a brand of ADvTECH, Africa’s leading private education provider.
In contrast with lengthy degrees which require a substantial investment of time and money, skills courses are short learning programmes that focus on developing a specific skill or competency for a particular purpose. Skills courses can be offered by various providers, such as universities, colleges, companies, or professional associations, and help students update their knowledge, acquire new skills, or prepare for a qualification or certification.
There are skills courses catering for almost all career fields, including (but not limited to) business management, finance, IT, marketing, health and safety, project management, and software development. Because skills courses are comparatively short and focused, students are able to develop professionally and add to their skills arsenal more effectively and efficiently.
“Skills courses have become indispensable in the current economic climate as a resource for job applicants to set themselves apart from their peers with similar backgrounds and qualifications,” says Makubalo.
“They offer a bridge to the evolving job market, enhance employability, and promote adaptability and resilience. Embracing continuous learning through skills courses equips individuals with the tools to thrive professionally and instils confidence and purpose, as well as reflecting well on the applicant’s drive during the job search process,” she says.
Some of the most important ways in which skills courses are coming to the fore as a professional development tool in the current economic climate, include:
BRIDGING THE SKILLS GAP
One of the most pressing challenges job seekers and employers face is the widening skills gap. As industries evolve and job requirements change, many traditional educational programmes fail to keep up with the pace of innovation. Skills courses address this issue by offering targeted training that equips individuals with the precise skills demanded by today’s job market – which cannot as easily be achieved by universities offering 3-year degrees.
ENABLING ADAPTABILITY AND RESILIENCE
In times of economic uncertainty, adaptability and resilience are essential for career success. Skills courses provide the tools enabling people to reinvent themselves and pivot their careers. By acquiring new skills, professionals can explore diverse opportunities and remain employable in multiple industries, reducing their vulnerability to economic fluctuations.
Employers are increasingly seeking candidates with specialised skills – rather than general degrees – that align with their organisational needs. Skills courses enhance employability and increase candidates’ chances of securing positions with higher earning potential.
MEETING INDUSTRY DEMANDS
Different industries have unique requirements, and skills courses meet those demands. From digital marketing and data analysis to coding and project management, skills courses ensure that professionals have the expertise to contribute meaningfully to their chosen fields, while also ensuring their skills stay relevant to industry needs.
OPENING DOORS TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Individuals can confidently launch and manage their own ventures by learning industry specific skills, business management, marketing, and financial planning.
“We expect to see a continued growth in individuals opting to boost their skills by way of shorter skills courses in coming years, as the economy continues to bite and competition for limited opportunities increase,” says Makubalo.
“Those opting to go this route should take care to ensure they study through a reputable institution, and that they select a programme or course that aligns with their vision for their future as well as opportunities in the jobs marketplace.”