Addressing graduate unemployment head-on through GEP
Youth in the black and coloured groups of South Africa have the highest rates of unemployment in the country - that's according to the latest Stats SA report released in September 2014: "Employment, unemployment, skills and economic growth". The same report indicates the unemployment rate for those with tertiary qualifications increased from 6% in 1994 to 14% in 2014.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) paints an equally grim picture. According to the WEF Global Risk 2014 report, South Africa has the third-highest unemployment rate in the world for people between the ages of 15 and 24. The report shows that 52% of young people in South Africa are unemployed. This paints an alarming picture for young people in South Africa who believe that acquiring a diploma or degree will guarantee they are employed after they graduate.
"While we prepared for graduation on Friday 8 May 2015, we are confident that we have produced quality graduates who can compete in the workplace because of all the preparation that accompanies their studies," says Indira Govender, Vice-Principal at Rosebank College, Durban.
"Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE). As an indication, 1 633 IIE graduates were placed in companies across South Africa during 2014. These include top businesses such as Cell C, SABC, Bidvest, Paperplus, Standard Bank and Internet Solutions, to name a few. This equates to an impressive six IIE graduates per working day who have been placed successfully in full-time positions in the South African workforce," adds Govender.
However, there are several factors which determine whether graduates receive employment or not. This ranges from possessing the right experience, the quality of your qualification and having the correct employment attraction skills, says Lilian Bususu, National Graduate Development Manager at The IIE Rosebank College. "Graduates need to be proactive and need to understand that they are competing on a global stage and not just with their classmates. We have also come to realise that students don't know how to physically search for and apply for employment."
To address this problem, The IIE Rosebank College initiated the Graduate Empowerment Programme (GEP) in 2012. "Our graduates were graduating, but they were struggling to find employment. The GEP was created to prepare our students for the world of work after graduation, as we realised that students needed to be career coached and prepared in other ways for employment," adds Bususu.
Carol Tshabalala graduated top of her class, with a three-year National Diploma in Public Relations from the Sunnyside Campus in Pretoria. She received employment soon after in a call centre, but left because she wasn't fulfilled in her position. "I was very unhappy and didn't realise that things were about to change for the better, when I was contacted by The IIE Rosebank College Sunnyside Campus Career Centre administrator." After leaving her employment, Tshabalala was called in for several interviews, but never landed any of the jobs.
"I didn't know what I was doing wrong until I was asked to stand in front of my peers during a GEP workshop and pretend that I was being interviewed." Tshabalala received constructive criticism on what she needed to change and positive reinforcement on what she was doing well. "They also look at what you are wearing and your general appearance. They basically polish you up. "You already have your theory, so this helps you put your best foot forward at your next interview."
Not only was Tshabalala assisted with how to perfect a job interview, she was also advised on the importance of using the correct grammar. "A lot of what people get wrong during interviews is related to their grammar. How you speak is very important. When I stood in front of the group, I spoke very fast because I was nervous. This was pointed out to me and I had to learn how to slow down and this has boosted my confidence."
During career coaching sessions, graduates are taught how to effectively search for a job. They are advised not to randomly send their CVs to possible employers, but to rather focus on what they want to do and how to tailor their CVs for the position they are applying for.
The GEP aims to empower graduates with tools that will allow them to find employment that matches their skill set and qualification. Lehlohonolo Tseke is such an example. Tseke studied towards a Diploma in Public Relations and is now employed by the Institute of Municipal Finance Officers in the Marketing & Sponsorships Division as an intern. He attributes his success to all the tips and support he received from The IIE Rosebank College.
"I'll forever be grateful to the opportunity given to me by The IIE Rosebank College Braamfontein, as well as the Rosebank College National Office. Thank you to my principal, my programme co-ordinators, my academic assistants, my lecturers and my career centre co-ordinator. I'd like to say continue with the great work you are doing in placing graduates."
The IIE Rosebank College has partnered with over 600 corporates and is always looking for more companies to collaborate with. "We supply these corporates with The IIE graduate CVs and make sure that we fill their posts with our best IIE Rosebank graduates who match the requirements and culture of the company."
To date, The IIE Rosebank College has placed over 3 000 students in employment since the programme began in 2012.
"We make sure that The IIE Rosebank College graduates get the chance they deserve to realise their dreams, by making sure that they are quality [candidates] and employable graduates," says Bususu.