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With less-than-stellar matric pass rates and overflowing university admissions, SA’s newest batch of school leavers has a lot to be concerned about, says Anna Malczyk of specialist online training company GetSmarter.
“Fortunately there are several things young people can do to improve their prospects of getting employed and furthering their education – and thus make 2012 their best year ever,” she says.
Malczyk believes that for a budding working professional without a job, internships are the first prize. An internship is a work arrangement where an inexperienced person joins a company to be mentored and trained by its staff, learning the ropes of the industry and eventually taking on smaller responsibilities as part of the job.
“Some internships offer a monthly stipend,” she points out. “But the best part is that, if you show potential and enthusiasm during your internship period, you may well be offered a permanent position in the company. At very least, you will have made valuable contacts in your industry and gained valuable experience.”
Go for an apprenticeship. Like internships, apprenticeships offer on-the-job training and work experience to novices. Apprenticeships are usually offered in practical, hands-on trades like construction, crafting, plumbing and similar fields, and the apprentice learns through observing and assisting his or her mentor. Many apprentices later become employees of the company, or go on to start their own companies.
Don’t be too choosy when it comes to getting a first job, Malczyk advises.
“Few people find the perfect position the first time round, or they discover that their industry is currently saturated and no openings are available. In cases like this, it is beneficial to find employment of any kind, even if this is just a part-time position or low-level administrative role.”
It is possible to learn from any job – new skills, time management, working with people, administration and more – and it demonstrates your initiative. Becoming a waitron, data capturer or shop assistant won’t hurt, and people who perform well may find their drive and hard work rewarded with a promotion.
If you aren’t studying and have not found a job yet, invest in learning skills you don’t have. Consider doing part-time or short correspondence courses like the online courses offered by GetSmarter and the University of Cape Town; attend seminars and free workshops; and read widely.
Visit www.getsmarter.co.za for more information.
Tips for school leavers
lConsider internships and apprenticeships as excellent training alternatives.
lLearn skills that employers value, such as communication, negotiation and interpersonal skills, computer ability.
lDon’t be too choosy when getting a first job.