With the focus right now on #FeesMustFall, #FreeEducation and many other issues around obtaining a tertiary qualification, other education issues have fallen out of the spotlight. One such issue is the increased level of graduate unemployment, which have risen along with a weak economy over the past few years.
Youth unemployment reached an all-time high of 55.90 percent in the second quarter of 2017, while Statistics SA's Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) showing that overall unemployment was at its highest level in the past 14 years.
So while students are knocking down the doors to get a university place, is a degree enough to ensure their future success? Based on the above statistics – obviously not. This means tertiary education must begin conversations around not only decolonising higher education to make it more South Africa-relevant, but about ensuring that graduates become valuable, productive contributors to society.
These are conversations Tertiary School in Business Administration (TSiBA) Education has been having since opening its doors 14 years ago. The first thing we did to put life to our by-line of "Igniting Opportunity", was to have multiple interviews with HR managers. To a man, they were clear that the piece of paper listing academic prowess is simply not enough.
The differentiators of a developed self, critical thinking skills and work experience trumps every time. Today this is even truer today, as textbook knowledge will not enable a graduate to respond to future challenges in a fast-changing world.
We know the jobs our graduates will enter don't even exist yet, so it's important to develop and hone the ability to innovate, collaborate, work in a team and be agile and able to respond fast in an uncertain world.
Designing a relevant curriculum is one of the key elements in addressing these issues...
We also know that, as the world of AI is starting to encroach on the "stable" jobs our workforce have relied on for centuries, graduates will need to take their place as leaders in their communities, and pay the privilege of a degree forward proactively and with focused responsibility to uplift the communities they are a part of.
Designing a relevant curriculum is one of the key elements in addressing these issues – instead of simply pitching up to lectures, taking notes and regurgitating information, we know that today's graduate needs far more.
They need to be part of an innovative learning community that turns out entrepreneurial leaders who ignite opportunity and social change within their communities and the country as a whole. In other words, paying it forward – which is part of TSiBA's ethos. Today the vast majority of our graduates actively pay it forward through their commitment and involvement in their communities.
It's not enough to simply want to learn any longer. We need graduates with a social conscience who not only have the skills the economic world demands of them, but also the desire to build our nation into the world leader it should be.
Where there's massive unemployment, why not start your own business, or take an existing business to another level?
Today's essential skills
- People skills – including teamwork, a strong work ethic and positivity;
- Technology skills – essential in today's tech world. A knowledge of analytics and how they can be utilised is a big plus;
- Social media skills – all companies want graduates with this type of ability;
- Self-motivation – with technology allowing employees to work remotely these days,a greater emphasis is placed on being able to manage your own workload and collaborate using communication tools;
- Creativity and innovation – the word "disruptor" comes in here – and being able to think outside the box to take your company ahead;
- Entrepreneurial skills – where there's massive unemployment, why not start your own business, or take an existing business to another level?
Adri Marais is the CEO of TSiBA Education (Tertiary School in Business Administration)