I have been inundated by the question “What do you predict the job market is going to look like in 2010 for school leavers and professionals?”. Considering I don’t have a crystal ball (that works!) and considering all the economists in our country cannot even agree on whether or not we are actually out of the recession – I’m left to guess!!
Perhaps it is best to stick to facts and to rather give an opinion :-)
Whilst some economists tell us that the recession is over, others believe we are still on the tail end of it. The technical recession appears to have ended, primarily due to governments investment in roads, railways and stadiums for the World Cup. Despite this, the cautious buying behaviours formed during the recession are probably going to continue long after the recession is over. This applies to many businesses too, which naturally affects their manpower budget. We are seeing this specifically in those industries hardest hit by the recession in 2009.
South Africa’s current unemployment rate is 24.5%. Close on a million people had lost their jobs within the year by September 2009. According to the most recent Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, 12% of employers expect to increase their worker headcount and 11% of employers expect to decrease their worker headcount. Personally, I believe we will see an increase in headcount, perhaps more noticeable in the latter part of 2010.
Matric results released on Thursday show a 1.8% point decline in the National Senior Certificate exam pass rate to 60.7% for 2009 matriculants. Oi Vey!!! Poor results were achieved in Mathematics and English - core subjects!! I believe it is common knowledge that there is a clear gap between the current standard of secondary education and the competency requirements of employers.
Mentorship programmes in the workplace do address this issue to a certain degree. The fact is that there has been little opportunity for mentorship programmes in 2009, as employers were employing only essential personnel. It is doubtful that this is going to change much in the first half of 2010. The really sad part is that, in my opinion, many SETA’s are not as they should be - they could assist in this regard!! ...... But, that is another subject entirely on its own :-)
Most mentorship programmes have entry level skills requirements, such as computer literacy, which most school leavers do not possess at the level required. School leavers are therefore encouraged to do additional courses in computer literacy, administration, basic accounting and communication in order to be able to fulfil the minimum requirements for basic work opportunities. The sooner they do this following Matric, the better. Gaining any kind of work experience, even promotional work is better than no experience. School leavers are vying for the same/similar positions as University graduates and don’t possess the same skills.
University graduates stand a better chance of finding employment due to graduate programmes being made available.
Having mentioned the above, gradual recovery in the economy and the prospect of a successful World Cup, should push up business confidence this year. We have already started seeing an increase in activity.
In closing, my advice is.............. Do not get caught up in the web of negativity. Society loves to sensationalise everything, especially the negative issues and large conglomerates love to “box” people in. I personally believe that there is an opportunity out there for each and every individual who is prepared to work hard, has a good work ethic, is prepared to make a valuable contribution, is self driven, self motivated and focussed.
Optimistically in-Sync, Nicole