South Africa

OP-ED: Education Pathways: 10 tips for learners who matriculated with a D or H endorsement

Gaining university entry or landing a job is not the be-all and end-all for matriculants. The good news is that there are many options for youngsters who may feel left behind and fear a future of unemployment.

Learners who passed matric with a diploma (D) or higher certificate (H) endorsement may be feeling confused and lost. This is because most of the reporting about matric results is about high-achieving individuals, provinces and schools. If not that, it is about gaining entry into universities in South Africa – an option that may not be available for these young people. So, perhaps some are thinking of joining the labour force. However, SA has a youth unemployment rate of 38.2%, according to StatsSA. When compared with the global youth unemployment rate of 13.1% (and sub-Saharan Africa’s 11.1%) reported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), things are not promising in the jobs market too. Consequently, they may be anxious about having nothing to do, joining the 3.1 million youth who are not in employment, education or training, who make up 32.4% of the young people aged 15-24. This global rate of people not in employment, education or training is 21.8% and in sub-Saharan Africa, it is 15.5% according to the ILO. Fortunately, there is no need for these matriculated young people to despair. Gaining university entry or obtaining a job is not the be-all-end-all that we stress in this country. Therefore, it is not the end of the road for them. They do not have to improve their matric results if they do not want to. They must understand that the D and H endorsements they obtained mean they have the potential to at least obtain a diploma (two years of formal post-school education) or a higher certificate (one year of formal post-school education), respectively. However, that is not the only route for them. The good news is that there are many options for these youngsters. This pathways map developed as part of the larger 2015 Child Gauge project in a partnership between the Children’s Institute and the Poverty and Inequality Initiative at the University of Cape Town and IkamvaYouth, can help young people visualise these options. I will list the options from the most to the least structured. However, I must warn that young people may require internet access for some of them. Tips on how to get free or cheap internet are at the end of this article. Achieving the endorsed qualification 1. Young people can go to a university of technology and earn a qualification that will open doors for them in technical professions. These are highly respected and well-paying jobs. Technicians include laboratory technician, librarians, logistics and supply chain managers, tourism and hospitality jobs, printing managers, teachers, nurses, estate agents, and many applied jobs. If one Googles these jobs one will see what is done in them, how much is earned in South Africa and what the requirements are. Also, there is plenty of room to develop and grow professionally and obtain higher qualifications (see the pathways map). Here is a full list of universities of technology in South Africa. 2. Apply at a TVET college. These are good for many reasons and the most important is that the public TVET colleges are 100% free. That means if youth apply and get into a public TVET college, they qualify for bursaries from the government. They also have a good chance of getting a job in South Africa — since we urgently need artisans. Artisans include boilermakers, electricians, plumbers, jewellery, clothing and shoemakers, bakers, chefs and so on. Also, you will earn a qualification that you can build from. Not only that but if you Google these jobs, you see that they pay really well and there are management opportunities. This is a full list of public TVET colleges in South Africa. 3. Do an apprenticeship. Here they learn on the job. At the end, they may receive a formal qualification, depending on how the apprenticeship is structured. Examples of apprenticeships include learning how to be a bank teller, millwright, social media manager, writer, call centre agent, data capturer and so on. If youngsters search “2019 apprenticeship” and type their town’s name into Google, they may find such opportunities. 4. Apply for a learnership. This is very similar to an apprenticeship, except it may not result in young people obtaining a formal qualification, only formal experience. Also, passing Grade 12 may not be a requirement. Again, searching for 2019 learnerships in your town on Google can yield the wanted results. 5. Apply for the Youth Employment Service (YES) initiative which was piloted by the president of South Africa in his inaugural Budget speech in 2018. YES is meant to support black (African, Coloured and Indian) unemployed youth and integrate them into the labour market. YES intends to provide experience and exposure to a business that will yield sustainable employment for young people or integrate their businesses into the supply and value chain. A visit to the YES website will help. 6. Start a business with the help from government agencies such as the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). A visit to their website may assist. Youth can also start a non-profit organisation and apply for funding from the DG Murray Trust. 7. Get a job and earn money while planning the next step. 8. Volunteer and gain some experience. 9. Otherwise, visit the local library and read books instead of sitting at home. Use this time productively to upskill yourselves and enrich your minds. 10. Take some of these options while studying at Unisa. For first-time students, the courses are free. Tips on how to obtain cheap or free internet access Go to a public library and use the computers there. Ask your local librarian about this. Visit a café and ask to use their free internet. This may require that you buy something, a coffee or tea or the cheapest thing on their menu may do the trick. Most often the WiFi is uncapped. Access free WiFi in public spots such as train stations and airports — Cape Town and Johannesburg offer this. This may require registering and having an email account. DM Lukhanyo Velelo has a BSc (Mathematics and Economic Science) from Wits University, an honours degree in Development Studies from the University of Cape Town and is enrolled there for the MPhil in Development Studies.  Currently, he is a junior researcher at the Poverty and Inequality Initiative at UCT and is a practitioner in the field of socio-economic development.