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Johannesburg - Sixty percent of top graduates received more than one job offer, the number of vacancies for new graduates were on the increase and this year’s first-time job seekers could expect to earn more than those of a year ago.
These insights emerged from an independent survey of leading companies, including Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Ernst & Young, Estée Lauder, Kraft Foods, L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, Tiger Brands and Unilever.
The latest SA Graduate Recruiters’ Association (Sagra) Employer Survey 2012 also revealed that the average starting salary for graduates last year was R134 000 a year, while the highest was for positions at investment banks, mining and engineering companies, and law firms, which offered about R250 000 a year.
However, while parents thought graduation would guarantee future employment, this did not necessarily happen.
“In fact – a degree does not even guarantee an interview anymore – what it does though, is give you the licence to apply,” the association’s national co-ordinator Cathy Sims said.
“So, if a learner isn’t academically inclined but creative or good with their hands, use the opportunity to investigate further education as opposed to academic pursuit – there is always a demand for a good plumber, carpenter or nail technician.”
While Sims agreed that cracking the labour market was tough for some, there was no reason for those who had the “full package” to struggle. “Employers are looking for graduates who can plan and organise effectively, have good communication skills, an ability to solve problems and not just a qualification,” she said.
A report by Adcorp painted a bleak picture of the mismatch between what universities produced and what business needed.
Of the 600 000 unemployed graduates, most had studied the arts, social sciences and other humanities programmes.
This, while there were 800 000 vacancies in engineering, law, accounting and medicine.
A job seeker with just a Grade 12 certificate had a 40.6 percent chance of getting a job, compared with 63.7 percent for a bachelor’s degree holder, and 71.2 percent for an honours graduate.
Professional bodies like the SA Law Society, the Health Professions Council and the Institute of Chartered Accountants didn’t help alleviate the skills shortage, the report suggested.
They existed, ostensibly, to restrict entry into these fields to maintain standards, but in reality they fostered monopolies and contributed to the brain drain.
SA had less than one doctor per 1 000 people, and yet hundreds of students who achieved six or seven distinctions in Grade 12 were turned away from medical schools every year.
“Despite the shortage of doctors, medical schools, in total, admit just 9 000 MB ChB students, compared with 8 500 some 10 years ago,” the report said.
Pretoria News Weekend