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.