Alternative graduate employment opportunities

Having a university degree does not mean graduates will get a job. Students who don’t qualify for graduate placement programmes are increasingly finding themselves unemployed and unemployable after graduating.

Local employers often say graduates lack the skills and experience required for entry level positions and are usually unwilling to use their resources to train new graduates.

“We don’t believe graduates have all the practical knowledge of the business, they need training,” said Times Media Head of Programme Paddi Clay.

Times Media takes graduates from different faculties. But for those who don’t qualify for the cadet programme, they also offer two-weeks no pay experiential learning. Most students are reluctant to work without pay but the short-term experience would work in their favour on their CVs.

“We try to accommodate many people who apply on a short-term basis or for six months if it is part of their undergrad,” said Clay.

Students who want international work experience and travel but don’t have the financial means to do so should look at agencies such as the Overseas Visitors Club (OVC). OVC targets young graduates and works specifically with young people who find it difficult to get into the working field.

“We offer teaching abroad, au-pairing, hospitality internships and horticulture opportunities abroad,” said OVC consultant Shani Styger. Styger said South African university graduates can teach English in Korea, Thailand and China.

She said there were hospitality internships in Dubai and the U.S “a person with waitressing experience and a qualification can qualify to be an intern and get hands-on training experience.”

Styger said the most popular option is au-pairing because American host families pay for flights and visas. “Students can make a lot of money, however, the experience offered abroad is usually not related to the students’ graduate degrees,” said Styger . She said international work experience was important and employers are more willing to hire graduates that are more open-minded.

No career fair for Humanities


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’.