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

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

Stanford Mazhindu, spokesperson for the trade union UASA said that 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," said the Uasa spokesperson. 

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

  1. The working-age population increased by 153 000 or 0.4 percent compared with the second quarter of 2018
  2. The number of employed persons increased by 92 000 to 16.4 million
  3. The number of unemployed persons rose by 127 000 to 6.2 million
  4. The absorption rate of job seekers into the economy remained unchanged at 43.1 percent
  5. The unemployment rate increased by 0.3 of a percentage point to 27.5 percent

"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," warned Stanford.12

“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.

According to Mazhindu, 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 percent while people with a matric have an average unemployment rate of around 24 percent.

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

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

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," advised Stanford.