Limited job opportunities for international students at careers fair

NATIONAL EDGE?:  A recruiter explains to Witsies their available options for their career applications.  Photo: Lameez Omarjee

NATIONAL EDGE?: A recruiter explains to Witsies their available options for their career applications. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

International students can forget about applying for jobs in South Africa, unless they have an identity document (ID) or work permit. This was the general message at a careers fair, held earlier today at the Old Mutual Sports Hall at Wits.

The Counselling and Careers Developmental Unit’s (CCDU) graduate recruitment programme organised the fair for students from across all faculties but there was little on offer for students from outside South Africa.

Limited choices

International student Tinashe Chuchu, Masters in Marketing, attended the fair to look for potential recruiters and employment opportunities. He said the fair was a good initiative by Wits, however his choices are limited given his degree and nationality.

“There were a wide variety of opportunities for engineering students, social sciences students and commerce students,” he said.  However he was turned away by companies who were not looking foreign students. “I left out all the banks, for obvious reasons.  They do not take anyone who is not South African,” Chuchu said.

“I think the labour department puts (sic) regulations for companies to fulfil quotas,” he said.  In his own experience of looking for jobs, Chuchu found that there were positions advertised for international students, but only for specific and scarce skills sets.

Laws and regulations

Kwame Owusu-Ansah, masters in Chemical Engineering, shared Chuchu’s views.  Although there were many opportunities, Owusu-Ansah said some of them were very “shaky”.  You can apply for some positions, but then you have to make sure you can get a work permit.

“I have a wide variety of choices because I’m an engineer.  But until they find out I’m an international student, it slashes by three quarters.”

“Initially if you got an offer there would be an opportunity for you to get a permit.  But now you may get an offer, and not a get permit”

He explained that South African labour regulations are more stringent than in previous years.  “They often refuse permits for international students, even if they give you an offer,” he said.

Lloyd Uta, an international student completing his Masters in Marketing, found companies that were looking for applicants from South Africa and abroad.  Those were big multi-national companies and a few smaller companies looking to increase their human capital, he said.

However, Uta admits, “Choices are limited.  I have to keep switching between what I want to do (marketing) and what I can do (IT),” to find job openings.

Employers voice

Amos Kova,  a graduate recruitment manager at a bank explained why applicants had to be South African citizens, “We believe that we have an obligation to South Africa”.

Bohlale Paile, also a graduate recruitment manager at a bank said: “We don’t take international students at this point.  We did before, but we ran into problems when it came to getting work permits”.

She explained that the Department of Labour required recruiters to motivate why non-South African citizens were chosen over South African citizens.

The motivation process and applications for work permits take time, which holds international graduates back from starting the graduate programme timeously.

Raj Naran, the Career Development Educator and Team Leader Career Services at CCDU said this year, the careers fair was open to everybody.  “It does not have a specific focus.”

Companies came from industries where there was a shortage in a skills set, such as “accounting, engineering and commerce” he said.

Naran added that students should earn their jobs, develop themselves and prepare well, “and certainly, academic records play a role”.

Another careers fair is scheduled for September this year.

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

 

No career fair for Humanities

DINEO BENDILE & NOLWAZI MJWARA

HUMANITIES students have expressed their frustration with the Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU) for not hosting a  Humanities Career fair.

This frustration become apparent on the Twitter social media platform when the Career fairs for the Engineering Science and IT departments were held.

The Careers unit of the university has confirmed that the university has in fact hosted two humanities career fairs in the past two years.

Graduate recruitment officer at the Counselling and Careers Development Unit, Bongi Ndlovu, said that a career fair that is exclusive to humanities students has now been terminated.

“We have decided to stop hosting a fair that is just for humanities students as the students told us that they thought it was pathetic because of the low turnout by companies,” Ndlovu said.

[pullquote] “We have decided to stop hosting a fair that is just for humanities students as the students told us that they thought it was pathetic because of the low turnout by companies,” Ndlovu said.[/pullquote]

Ndlovu shared that only four companies had showed up to last year’s fair and that most companies had pulled out at the last minute.

The graduate recruitment unit does not appear to be doing well in terms of representing humanities students. The recruitment service, aimed at linking students to potential employers, has not been as successful in servicing the humanities faculty as it has been with others.

Speaking on the low turnout of companies at the humanities graduate recruitment programme, Ndlovu said: “We have a large number of humanities students and employers don’t feel the need to recruit them [via the programme].”

The Graduate recruitment unit is however looking into hosting a Recruitment agency day in August to support the interests of potential Humanities and all other faculty graduates.

The unit is also hosting General Career Fairs where companies who are looking to recruit humanities graduates will also attend. These General Career Fairs will include all faculties.

According to Ndlovu, the successes of the graduate employment programme are not measured by the unit, but by the university’s Alumni department as well as by the companies who offer Wits feedback on the number of Witsies they have recruited.

“[Humanities]students also need to understand that they also need to market themselves and understand that there will be more of a demand for students with other niche and targeted qualifications such as a BComm or Engineering degree,” said Ndlovu.

Acting Dean of Humanities Ruksana Osman shared that none of the faculties at the university have a special unit dealing with recruitment.

Osman said: “At the level of the faculty we have students who pursue academic and professional qualifications – and the latter are in constant contact with potential employers. The former are always encouraged to pursue an honours degree as this is the distinguishing feature in the job market.”

CCDU are planning two workshops entitled ‘Job Search Skills for the Humanities Graduate’.

 dineo@witsvuvuzela.com

 nolwazi@witsvuvuzela.com