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Employers on the lookout for skilled candidates

2018 matrics: no more than semi-skilled labour


With unemployment being our constant companion, South Africa’s matriculants will struggle to find employment.

Mr. Stanford Mazhindu, spokesperson for the trade union UASA, says now is the time to get skilled in order to get proper employment.

“While eagerly waiting for their matric results school leavers are competing with more than three million unemployed youths between the ages of 18 and 24 to find work and generate an income.”

These are the employment numbers for the third quarter 2018 as announced by StatsSA:

  • The working-age population increased by 153 000 or 0,4% compared to the second quarter of 2018
  • The number of employed persons increased by 92 000 to 16,4 million
  • The number of unemployed persons rose by 127 000 to 6,2 million
  • The absorption rate of job seekers into the economy remained unchanged at 43,1%
  • The unemployment rate increased by 0,3 of a percentage point to 27,5%

“Against the background of these numbers, I cannot over-emphasise the importance of education. I talk to employers all the time and the message is clear. Employers are looking for skilled people, and a straight matric qualification provides school leavers with limited skills, if any. Matric is simply not enough to qualify our young people for the labour market any longer, they are viewed as semi-skilled,” warns Stanford.

“Matric only gives you a broad theoretical background, but it does not prepare you to perform specific tasks in the economy. A person who left school with a grade 10 qualification and for instance added three years of practical training as a plumber, a mechanic or a hairdresser seems to have a far better chance of finding a job,” says Stanford.

“They may not have a matric certificate, but they have acquired certain skills that can be put to use by employers.”

For matrics who can afford it, there is only one solution: Further your studies.

“Fact is that the higher one is educated the better the chances are for employment. People with university degrees or more have an unemployment rate of 5% or less. People with technical qualifications such as artisans, nurses and the like have an unemployment rate of around 12% while people with a matric have an average unemployment rate of around 24%.

“People who have only got grade 11 or grade 10 have an unemployment rate closer to 35% or about seven times that of a person with a degree and three times higher than someone with a technical background,” says Stanford.

He adds the important exception to this is people with less than five years’ worth of schooling, who only have a 20% unemployment rate. They however do not earn half the wages of someone with matric.

“Research shows that people with matric earn between 40% and 70% more than those with less schooling. Those with a diploma or certificate earn between 170% and 220% more and those with degrees between 250% and 400% more than those who didn’t finish matric,” he says.

Any form of specialisation, from a hairdresser to a medical doctor, increases your chances of employment and increases your earnings potential.

“Our young people who did not manage to finish matric should not give up but find something that they are interested in via a Seta or a college or private institution. Go and specialise. Find out where the skills shortages are and where you can make a difference. If you do not have the money, try to find a job where you can get on the job training or ask a Seta to help.

“Consider studying at night at a correspondence college or university to make yourself valuable to the economy and to open further employment opportunities,” Stanford advises.

“My message to matrics or others that are leaving school this year is to not view yourself as helpless, but to think practical. Even if you must work for a pittance and live with your parents, get that initial work experience. It will open doors for you. Fact is that the world owes you nothing, but you owe yourself everything.”

Having a job is a privilege and not a right.

“Nobody owes you a job. Young people must take care that perceptions and attitudes about the job market do not blind them for job opportunities. They must change their approach and take responsibility for their own future. It is all about a willingness to do your part in the world. Your first responsibility is to take pride in yourself and to believe that you have something to offer to society and yourself, also when you are looking for a job,” 


For further enquiries or a personal interview, please contact Stanford Mazhindu on 074 978 3415.