Durban - With the matric results fresh off the press, thousands of matriculants will now focus on the next chapter of their lives.
This normally translates into university studies and a chance to edge closer to that dream job.
But for many, tertiary level education is a luxury they simply cannot afford.
Of the 789289 pupils who wrote the National Senior Certificate examinations, statistics show that at least half will have no option but to seek employment.
Sadly, many youngsters will remain jobless due to lack of experience, high transport costs and poor social networks.
Statistics also show the youth unemployment rate is double that of adults and those who battle most are matriculants from township or disadvantaged schools.
Tyron Chetty, 17, a matriculant from New West Secondary School, dreams of studying graphic design, but lack of finance has steered him towards trying to get a job in panel-beating or mechanics.
“Every decision I’ve made in life was to lead me to a career in graphic design. Even in school, my favourite subjects were graphic design and visual arts. I dabbled in a bit of drawing on the side.
“It makes me sad to think I am unable to further my studies in a career I am so passionate about. But I refuse to give up. I plan to find a casual job and hopefully save towards my education.”
Chetty said his dad was the sole breadwinner and because they are a family of six, every cent was accounted for. “My brother and sister, who are older, also sought employment after matric and I guess it’s now my turn.”
Chetty, who passed with a higher certificate, hopes to one day work at Unilever as a senior graphic designer.
Denzil Govender, 20, who matriculated with a bachelor’s degree pass at Dr AD Lazarus Secondary School, wants to study information technology but cannot afford the fees. He aims to work as a car salesman to earn the necessary funds to enrol.
“I understand that life isn’t easy but I’m willing to work hard for what I want. I will maybe take a year off to save and concentrate on my studies next year.”
Cindy Norcott, CEO of the recruitment agency Pro Appointments, said school leavers and those without the finance to further their tertiary studies would have difficulty finding employment. Companies, she said, normally looked for skilled candidates.
She suggested job seekers do temporary work, apply for internships or volunteer to help kickstart their careers.
“Experience is more important than money. Don’t be too proud to take a job such as waitering or working in a call centre, while you look for a job. This shows you are humble and willing to start at the bottom.
“Using your network, friends, family and contacts can also be effective. Junior candidates should consider doing partnerships. Register on all the relevant job portals and consider doing temporary work.”
She said the little money earned from casual jobs could be used to take short courses in the relevant field of study.
Norcott added that jobs in IT, accounting and engineering are in demand.
“It is hard to get a job through an agency without a qualification as most of our clients come to us for skilled people. I would encourage candidates to look into doing a short course, add to their computer skills and recommend they register with many agencies and put their CVs on several job portals.”
She said CVs should be kept to a maximum of three pages for a junior candidate.
“Don’t lie or exaggerate your skills. Use spell check. Never say you are looking for any job or are desperate. You need to have a positive attitude, a good work ethic, a reasonable salary expectation as well as decent marks and a good track record of previous jobs.
“You also need good references. Agencies want stable candidates with good track records, no criminal records, clean credit records and evidence of dedication. Agencies also check skills, so they want candidates to be honest about their skills, abilities and experience.”
Norcott said that before an interview, candidates should research the company, dress to impress, arrive early and get clear directions.
“Also have a few questions prepared for the interview to show you are interested in the position.”
Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, a non-profit social enterprise, has been working on tackling youth unemployment for the past six years.
They have successfully helped over 45000 first-time work seekers, who would otherwise have been locked out of the formal economy, find employment.
The organisation’s Jennifer Kann said: “Now that the 2017 matric results have been released, our experts are available nationally to discuss ‘you have a matric, now what?’.”