Deciding on a career is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. Given the fact that you will spend most of your day doing that job for the best part of your life, it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly.
Yet, so many scholars give the idea very little thought and consideration. Instead, they take aptitude tests and enrol in study programmes without any further consideration or they simply study what they think they will enjoy or be good at, only to discover later that they hate the profession or that there is a shortage of such jobs available locally.
According to a recent article released by the Cape Argus, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation said a range of studies in South African higher education, over the past decade, had shown persistently low university completion rates. With universities across the country holding graduation ceremonies, the foundation said its research has shown that only 32% of financial aid students graduate after five years of study. In another study by CareerBuilder, it was found that by age 35, about 25% of young employees would have worked five jobs.
This begs the question, do school leavers know enough to make an informed decision?
- How many students know what type of careers are available.
- What these careers entail.
- Whether there is a high enough demand for those skills in South Africa.
According to the CareerJunction Index, which monitors online labour market dynamics in SA, many school-leavers enter only a handful of sectors, resulting in an oversupply of job seekers and stiff competition for jobs. One such sector is the admin, office & support sector, where supply outstrips demand. Other industries see too little interest from students, resulting in the opposite; a high availability of jobs but not enough skilled labour. South Africa seems to be suffering from skills shortages in various fields, including the fields of engineering, finance and ICT, as these are less popular industries among the workforce. The irony, however, is that there are plenty of jobs available in these fields and, according to CareerJunction’s latest salary review, professionals take home the biggest paycheques. The latest CJI report shows a particularly high demand for software developers, sales consultants/representatives and middle/department managers.
School leavers should be careful about what careers they decide to pursue. Here are a few things that can help with the decision making process:
1. Get a full list of possible career options (here’s a great example to get started – GoStudy.net).
2. Investigate each career choice carefully to learn exactly what the job entails, what prospective jobs the careers offer, what qualifications are required etc.
3. Research the demand for those skills locally as well as the current supply of labour. Ensure that there are enough jobs available and that there isn’t an oversupply of labour within those fields. You can do this at www.careerjunction.co.za/#salaryreview;
4. Have a look at salary benchmarks within those professions. You can also do this at www.careerjunction.co.za/#salaryreview;
5. Complete a few internships to get a practical sense of your top career choices;
6. Speak to people in similar roles and ask the necessary questions.
Parents should help and guide their children through this process and encourage them not to rush into a career. In the long run, this will also save them the cost of paying for a dead-end qualification.
For more info on different occupations and learning institutions, check out GoStudy.net.