Lack of practical skills hampers graduates

Many of the learners who graduate from South African tertiary institutions cannot start working immediately after graduation.

While the government and parts of the private sector continue to increase their efforts to create jobs and increase the number of economically active South Africans, unemployment continues to escalate like wild fire.

This is despite the efforts to train the youth through learnerships, and various interventions that are undertaken by the South African Education Training Authority.

According to Alistair Robbins, divisional director of Stanford Computer and Business College, the reason why unemployment increases is partly due to a lack of practical training from higher education providers.

"A lot of youngsters leave school and go to tertiary institutions to learn theory without the right practical foundation.

"When they graduate, they have learnt analytical and other academic skills, but lack practical skills that are relevant to the workplace," says Robbins.

"Many of the learners who graduate from the South African tertiary institutions cannot start working immediately after graduation," he says. Learners still need "intensive practical training in writing for business, telephone etiquette, computer literacy, administration, just to name a few".

The problem of unemployment is compounded by the growing number of high school dropouts who are not taking advantage of practical training.

"There are a myriad of opportunities for youngsters to empower themselves with practical education which can prepare them for the workplace. We need a shift of mindset, for the youth to develop confidence in themselves and go back to the classroom to learn.

"The difference is that this time, they will learn practical and relevant skills that will enable them to make a significant contribution in the workplace within a short period of time upon employment."

Robbins says one way of ensuring that more young people focus on learning, as opposed to short-term gratification, is for business, government and education providers to send a strong and consistent message of the significance of continuous learning.