Way out in school of hard knocks

You studied hard, you aced your exams, your career choice is mapped out but just as your dreams are about to become a reality, you find yourself stuck for one reason: you did not get into a university.

According to an estimate by the dean of the tax faculty, Stiaan Klue, only two out of 10 matriculants made it into a South African university this year, as low university acceptance rates become an everyday reality.

This is an alarming figure, considering that the country churned out a total of 828 020 matriculants in its 2016 class. If the estimate is true, that means that only 2% will get into a university.

The chief executive officer of the Skills Academy, Jan Badenhorst, backs this up, although his estimates are not quite as dire.

According to Badenhost, only about half of the pupils who enter the schooling system in Grade 1 will get a matric certificate and of those, only 5% are likely to get a university degree.

This is a dangerous situation, Badenhost warned, as there is a direct link between level of education and expected income levels.

He said that unemployment is higher for people who are not in possession of a tertiary qualification. But what other tertiary qualifications are there if you don’t get into a national university?

For South African students these include:

  • Technikons;
  • Distance learning;
  • Private universities;
  • Private colleges; and
  • Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges.

“In South Africa we have both private and government colleges called TVET colleges. Previously they were called FET (Further Education and Training) colleges.

They offer accredited courses, but not degrees. Their courses are often accredited by one of the skills education and training authorities (Setas), Umalusi or by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO),” he said.

“If you have to work while you study, one of the many private distance learning colleges can be a good option.

“Distance learning enables you to work at your own pace. You study on your lunch break, on the train, at night and on weekends.”

University of South Africa spokesman Martin Ramotshela said this year the institution had received 142 000 new applications. Of those, only 100 000 qualified for admission, with only 87 000 being accepted.

He said the most popular qualification choice was a Bachelor of Education. Ramotshela said a higher certificate and a diploma are just as useful. Higher certificate streams include finance and banking with diploma choices varying from financial management to engineering.

“Higher certificates are obtained over one year.

“Often this is a skills-based qualification which means that a lot of focus is put into how skills are applied,” Ramotshela explained.

“There is a focus on achieving a set of skills required to perform within the chosen field and the qualification is typically industry-

oriented. The certificate could be used as an access or a path to either a diploma or a degree. The requirements may include a matric exemption or equivalent, or even just a matric pass without an exemption,” Badenhorst said.

“It often focuses on career-centric or vocational training with a great
deal of practical experience included within the course. Typically, in-depth and specialisation of skills are included along with practical work experience. Entry requirements often include matric

exemption or an equivalent.”

Af-ter completion of a diploma, students may then enrol for a fourth year of study with a Bachelor of Technology (Btech) degree either in the same or a related field.

The communication and marketing manager for Accounting Technician South Africa, Phumzile Phatedi, says prospective accountants do not need to have a degree before they enter the labour market.

According to Phatedi, there are now opportunities for individuals to access the labour market with other accounting qualifications, such as the Accounting Technician qualification, which is open to everyone wanting to access a career in accounting.

Phatedi said accounting technicians work in organisations throughout all sectors of business, industry and commerce, with many starting their training in firms of chartered or certified accountants.

Although salaries vary according to the employer and the sector of employment, starting salaries for a trainee accounting technician can begin at R90 000 per year.

Once qualified and with experience, an accounting technician can earn up to R480 000 and more.

According to a salary report conducted by research company Pay Scale, a chartered accountant earns an average of R481 117 per annum.

“Qualifications are by approved private training providers, TVET colleges and universities of technology. The universities that started to offer our qualifications this year are the University of Johannesburg, Tshwane University of Technology, Vaal University of Technology, Central University of Technology and Durban University of Technology,” Phatedi said.

The chief director of communications at the department of higher education, Madikwe Mabotha, warned prospective students to be wary of unregistered colleges and unaccredited courses.

He said subject to the Higher Education Act, all institutions must display their registration certificate or a certified copy in a prominent place accessible to the public and to all students on each of its sites.

The certificate of registration or provisional registration must include the registered name of the institution, the institution’s registration number as a private higher education institution, the list of approved programmes as accredited by the quality councils (CHE, Umalusi & QCTO), the respective sites or campuses at which registered programmes are to be offered, the coat of arms of the Republic of South Africa, the period of registration and the registrar’s name, signature and date of signature.

“A certificate of registration is not transferable from one institution to another,” he added.

Badenhost urged all those who do not get an opportunity to study further to strive to get a job or some form of training.

“Don’t sit at home. Even if you have to do the lowest level work or offer to work for free, the real-life work experience you will get is a valuable part of your further education.

“Once you have your foot in the door, even if you are doing the lowest level work, you have a huge advantage to be considered for other jobs that are available in that business. Most people find jobs through contacts,” he said.

“If you are busy sending out hundreds of CVs and applying for jobs online, you are wasting your time.

“If you have never had a formal job, then getting a job and learning how the world of work really operates is the most important next step you must take.” — zisandan@dispatch.co.za

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