Johannesburg - “I wasted my time by going to university. I have friends who started work straight from high school, they now have cars and houses and I am sitting at home with a three-year degree and no experience,” said Caroline Diale.
Diale, 23, a University of Johannesburg psychology graduate, is one of many graduates affected by the unemployment crisis.
She has been struggling to find a job related to her field of study since she graduated in 2013.
Recent figures released by Statistics SA record unemployment at 26.7 percent.
The figures show that for the first quarter of the year, employment declined by 2.2 percent or 355 000 jobs.
Although Diale has a psychology degree, she has only been able to get a temporary secretarial job. She sent out 10 job applications a day in her search for a permanent post.
“I have reached a dead-end, I wish I had studied something like accounting or mining; maybe I would have a job by now,” said Diale.
Her job hunt has included sending hundreds of applications for government posts, although she believes that in order to get a job in the government, you need to know someone.
Lesedi Malgas, who studied corporate communications, has been looking for a job for five months.
She said it was hard to find jobs straight from university because companies wanted someone with experience.
“It is really depressing. I have sent so many job applications and I don’t even get a response, so I don’t know what I am doing wrong,” she said.
Malgas concurred with Diale regarding government employment. “I think the government is failing its youth because to get a job in the government, you need to be someone’s daughter or niece.”
Department of Higher Education and Training spokesman Khaye Nkwanyana said high school pupils needed to be encouraged to train as artisans, as there were more opportunities for plumbers, electricians and mechanics. “Many graduates are still unemployed because they chose careers that are not in demand, for example, communications, marketing, journalism.”
Nkwanyana said the department was giving opportunities to graduates who were struggling to find jobs.
“We use what is called retooling; we take you to college and train you in motor mechanics and plumbing. After that, you are then placed in a work space to gain experience.”
He encouraged young people to be flexible with their careers and allow themselves to be retooled if they were struggling to find work in their fields of study.
Amogelang Tlale, 26, a North-West University journalism graduate, opted to go back to school when she struggled to find a job. She is now studying for a second qualification in business management while looking for a job.
“I liked journalism, but I didn’t do anything productive. I graduated in 2009 and really struggled to find work, so I ended up working as a petrol attendant because I couldn’t just sit and do nothing.”
Tlale is hoping for better opportunities with the business management qualification.
“Business management is better because I can even start my own company. If I could just get capital and start a media company,” she said.
According to Skills Education Training Authorities (Seta) co-ordinator Lumka Malizwe, job creation is related to the economic growth of the country. If the economy was stagnant, then there would be no employment whether job seekers had skills or not, Malizwe said. He argues that the government is not failing the graduates.
“There are 21 Setas all across the country aiming to provide unemployed graduates with the opportunity to gain experience and to stand more chance of being employed.”
Setas develop and implement a skills development plans for unemployed graduates. They grant development funds of about R2.5 billion each year. Malizwe said this money was entirely used for youth development and catered mainly for black youth.
“We, of course, give more opportunities to black graduates because they are the majority. Nonetheless, the internships and learnerships created are created for all South African graduates.”
Another young person, Duane Barker, 24, helps out in his father’s construction company while waiting for an opportunity to get a job in his field of study of sports and recreation management. Barker said most companies wanted job applicants to have experience.
“It is more difficult for me because there aren’t many jobs for my qualification. I looked for internships, but there aren’t many jobs,” Barker said.
“I had hoped to a certain degree that by the time I finished university, the market would be better for me.”