OPINION | When tertiary qualifications fail to secure jobs for women who've been told education is the doorway out of poverty, is there any hope for us?
Just a few days ago, a disturbing image of what looked like a few hundred job seekers gathered at a Mc Donald's branch in Bloemfontein in hopes of securing an interview and later a job at the food outlet, made way into my social media timeline.
See below for the image:
In a free, democratic country, Africa's land of opportunity, this image personifies some deep-rooted systematic problems with corporate South Africa.
One would assume that these are young people who have no other job prospects, perhaps because of being located far from city centres, a lack of tertiary qualifications, or some other limiting factor.
But the reality is that this is not always the case, as was proven with a trending hashtag started by Keabetswe of #oJewaKeng fame.
She encouraged job seekers to post their qualifications on #KeaJobSeeker on Twitter in the hopes that they would either receive job offers, or get a link to someone who may offer them employment.
Understandably, the response was massive, but what stood out as I went through the thread was the high volume of qualified young people, particularly women, who are at their wit's end due to being unable to secure jobs.
Nurses, teachers, engineers, biotechnologists, IT specialists, lawyers, chartered accountants, the list is long — all shared their qualifications and pleaded for someone to give them a career break.
Is this what young people who've done all they can to make themselves marketplace ready have to do to find work? Is it a fact that there are absolutely no opportunities to offer these young people, even those with the rare skills we're often told are in shortage in this country?
We have an employment crisis. And it would seem a lack of qualified candidates is not the root cause.
Here are some of the women who shared their qualifications on #KeaJobSeeker in the hopes of finding work:
I am currently unemployed, looking for an entry level job or internship in Economics, banking, finance or anything along those lines. I hold a Bcom Economics And Econometrics degree with 6 months claims handling (insuarance) experience and a valid drivers license #KeaJobSeeker pic.twitter.com/8errtqXhhS— Nomaswazi Tshabalala (@swazi_mshengu) January 14, 2020
Perhaps we need to evaluate other factors that discourage employers from offering young people job opportunities.
In many instances, job seekers mull over the fact that when they go for interviews, they are often asked to produce proof of prior employment.
Of cause, this is slightly understandable from the employers' perspective.
Still, the reality is that no tertiary institution in this country produces graduates who magically come out of university with three years' worth of the work experience.
Corporates have to take on this role — training up future experts and industry leaders from graduate level up.
And rightly so, because for the country to consistently produce a qualified and experienced workforce, someone has to cultivate it.
The very real danger of a high unemployment rate is that many young people could be tempted to resort to deviant behaviour out of frustration - compounding the crime hurdle that we're riddled with already.
I cannot even begin to fathom the pain of being an MTech Engineering graduate or a qualified chartered accountant and struggling to find work.
I fear that the upcoming generation could quickly lose interest in acquiring an education as they witness our graduates going jobless with no corporates willing to give them a chance at joining the working class.
We need to solve the unemployment conundrum, it's heartbreaking.