Rising graduate unemployment leads to uptake in entrepreneurship



Published Nov 21, 2022


Johannesburg - South Africa’s labour market is a very challenging landscape. Lack of opportunities to study further after matric is still a stark reality for many South Africans.

According to PWC, even those with tertiary education are facing an uphill battle in finding employment, with about one in ten people who are unemployed in South Africa having a tertiary education.

This means that up to 10 percent of unemployed individuals possess some form of tertiary education.

The number of unemployed graduates is steadily increasing, according to Johannesburg Business School dean Prof Randall Carolissen.

This is confirmed by PWC, who stated that during the second quarter of this year, there were 742,000 unemployed tertiary educated graduates. The number is three times more than it was after the global financial crisis.

Prof Carolissen was speaking at the UJ Entrepreneurship Day, an event hosted by the Johannesburg Business School (JBS) Centre for Entrepreneurship's Small Business Enrichment Programme (SBEP) with its partner University of Johannesburg (UJ) Finance & Expenditure Department.

Dean of JBS Prof Randall Carolissen spoke of the importance of empowering entrepreneurs so their businesses can thrive Picture: Timothy Bernard

The B2B networking event was convened to create opportunities for small businesses to connect with big companies with their services, products, and offerings.

Prof Randall Carolissen highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship in South Africa and how it could benefit the unemployed in light of the country's unemployment crisis.

“We all know that we do not create enough jobs in our country so there large is scale unemployment, but what is more worrying is that youth unemployment is sky high and what's worse is that graduate unemployment is growing at an alarming pace.”

“So we can't have such smart people sitting at home. So we provide, hopefully, the platform for such smart people to exercise their creativity in a protected space with us, and we can mentor them, and we can coach them. And so when they go out there, they are not only going to be survivalist SMEs, but they can build big enterprises, and that's our ultimate aim,” said Carolissen.

Nonhlanhla Mtwisha, the Supplier Manager at UJ’s Finance Expenditure Department, stressed the importance of making sure entrepreneurs received support so that their businesses can thrive.

Nonhlanhla Mtwisha, the Supplier Manager at UJ’s Finance Expenditure Department Picture: Timothy Bernard

“I guess it is important that we give that platform where they are able to voice out and be heard, more than anything. I think it's important that we have a lot of young people in particular that have big ideas, but they lack the support in terms of the platforms where they can elevate and be able to be heard.”

“So UJ is sort of a stepping stone. We help them to get to that level where they are able to shine,” said Mtwisha.

Xolile Nkosi, who is the founder of the Xoli Agri Project, was one of the entrepreneurs present at UJ Entrepreneurship Day and displayed some of the vegetables she grows. She is incredibly proud of her peri-peri and has big plans for her fiery peppers.

“We attended another training. They said we need to venture into agri-processing. So I've started to specialise in chilli. So at the moment, our clients are butcheries in the location, shisanyamas and other shops in town for chips,” said Nkosi.

Xoli is now working on acquiring halal certification so that she will be able to expand her reach to a larger retail market. She has her heart set on supplying the likes of Woolworths and Checkers.

Xoli believes events such as these will be of great benefit to her and other entrepreneurs’ business prospects.

“It's good marketing-wise because we are meeting different buyers. We are meeting different marketing strategies, and we are able to network with each other,” she said.

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