High Education and Training Deputy Minister Buti Manamela speaks to unemployed youth and school learners at the career expo in Tlapa village outside Rustenburg. Picture: ANA Reporter
Durban - Plumbing , information technology, management, engineering and geology. These are the careers the Department of Higher Education and Training is recommending that young people pursue to boost their chances of getting sustainable jobs in the current economy.

These are among the “sought-after” skills listed on the department’s website, which also includes toolmakers, auto electricians and air conditioning technicians.

The department said the government had embarked on several initiatives to solve the high unemployment rate.

The acting deputy director-general of policy, Dr Hersheela Narsee, said provinces like the Eastern Cape had a large number of graduates, but the demand for their skills was in Gauteng, resulting in a “geographical misalignment”.

Also, graduates in rural areas did not have the networks or resources to access or learn about opportunities, while some employers preferred graduates from well-known institutions.

“It’s also expensive to apply for a job; you have to make photocopies and have access to the internet,” said Narsee.

She also said there was a mismatch between what people were interested in studying, and what the job market needed.

In March, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Youth Employment Service (Yes), saying he was confident it could create 500000 jobs a year. The Yes initiative is a collaboration between the government, labour, civil society and the youth.

However, scores of unemployed graduates took to the streets of Durban today, their second protest in the past two weeks.

Organiser Nkululeko Ndlovu, a graduate of the Mangosuthu University of Technology, said there had been no progress since their last march.

Independent economic analyst Professor Bonke Dumisa said a skills mismatch was largely to blame.

“Students, especially the African ones, choose courses that are not in demand in this country, or they feel forced to choose them because of the university points system,” he said.

He listed IT, accounting and engineering as examples of career paths in demand.

Dumisa said the lack of quality basic education also contributed to why some graduates ended up with qualifications that were not sought after by companies.

“It should not just be about wearing the black gown, but what you plan to do with the skills you learnt in tertiary institutions,” he said.

Dumisa warned students to carefully consider their courses or fields of study. “The issue of choosing to study a certain field because of its fancy name must also stop,” he said.

Vee Gani, chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Parents’ Association, said the slow growth of the economy was just one of the reasons for unemployment.

He said in many cases companies did not fill vacancies when workers resigned.

Gani believed that companies were trying to cut costs by employing fewer people because the rising cost of living, numerous petrol hikes, and the VAT increase meant that employees had to be paid more.

Gani said it was also unrealistic to say students had done the wrong course, because unemployment was not limited to one field.

“It is not just education graduates that are unemployed, but even people with biochemistry or medical degrees,” he said.

Therona Moodley, KZN spokesperson of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA, said the lack of subject guidance offered in high schools was one of the factors behind unemployment.

Narsee advised unemployed graduates to apply for learnerships, internships and apprenticeships so that they could get a year’s work experience and earn a minimum income.

She said the Department of Higher Education had a career website on which unemployed youth could register, or they could register at one of the many labour centres in the country.

Daily News