Degrees with no guarantees – 563 000 graduates still unemployed

Stats SA has just released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the third quarter of the year, showing that the unemployment rate in the country has stagnated at 27.7%. Of those, 38.6% of those who have given up hope of finding work are included – the worst levels in 14 years. 9.1% included holders of degrees and diplomas. The sad reality is that a university degree or diploma no longer holds the promise of jobs for young South Africans as hundreds of thousands of them battle to find work.

Labour market analyst, Loane Sharp, says about 563 000 university graduates are languishing at home, unable to put into practice what they have learned. A growing army of unemployed graduates are now forced to either rely on their families to support them or find jobs as unskilled workers, such as waiters, clerks and office assistants.

African Bank’s Group Executive: Human Capital, Lindiwe Miyambu, says it is definitely not all doom and gloom however. “There are still talent opportunities aplenty in certain sectors. The banking sector is one such example.” In fact, in the latest report, the highest growth in employment during Q3 was mainly driven by finance and other business services industries.

“New advanced technologies, increased competition and a need for new product innovation have opened up a host of employment opportunities for young graduates looking for employment opportunities. There is a need for the development of a pipeline of graduates that meet the skills needs of the banking sector,” she says.

Sharp agrees saying the key issue is whether the degree is relevant to employers. He says not all graduates are equal in the fierce battle for jobs and vocational relevance is a big problem. “It is concerning to see that we have 865 000 vacancies in the private sector and yet still so many unemployed graduates.”

Topping the list of sought after skills in banking are IT, accounting, actuarial and financial analysis as well as management skills, particularly at the senior management level.

“We are seeing a huge focus on IT which is logical due to the changing technology and new product development within banks. Mobile banking and cashless transactions are what people want,” she says.

Common fields of study offering a supply stream for the banking sector are Bachelor of Commerce; Bachelor of Science: Actuarial/Financial Mathematics; Bachelor of Business Administration; Bachelor of Science: Engineering/Applied Mathematics/Computer Science; Bachelor/Master of Law: Corporate Law; Bachelor of Accountancy. “There are, in some cases, intakes from Bachelor of Arts: Psychology and Bachelor of Social Science: Human Resources. The bulk of the supply, however, falls within the areas of Business and Management.”

African Bank has engaged with both industry and higher education institutions in an effort to support the development of the sector. These include inter-SETA partnerships, partnerships with other public higher education institutions, partnerships in Africa and overseas.

Sharp says partnerships like this are good for the industry. “On a macro level it is encouraging to see so many institutions providing innovative private solutions to the public problem we are experiencing.”

For those considering a career in banking, Miyambu says that African Bank has just opened its 2018 Graduate Development Programme. For the first time this will be a national programme open to anyone who meets the criteria and is in possession of an NQF level 6 or 7 tertiary qualification. “It is a programme where we encourage 110 innovative and insightful graduates from across South Africa to join our 12-month graduate programme which is designed for those who are business-orientated, customer-focused and who are looking for a challenging career within the banking industry. This is a high-quality programme that will allow unemployed graduates to gain workplace skills, apply their

ideas and gain practical experience within the banking industry.”

The academic programme chosen centres on core banking themes and topics that allow graduates to explore foundational concepts and fundamental principles of the banking environment in South Africa, the evolving nature of the financial systems of money and banking, customer and strategic management. In addition graduates will be afforded the opportunity to write their respective regulatory exams (RE5) upon conclusion of the programme.

Anyone interested in applying for the 2018 graduate programme can visit the African Bank website to check the qualifying criteria.

“For those fortunate enough to be selected they will not only gain invaluable experience but also be introduced to the crème de la crème of the banking industry through our associations with the reserve bank and the institute of bankers. This programme will stretch you and is only for the most determined, ambitious, courageous and street-smart amongst you,” concludes Miyambu.