Matriculants urged to think out of the box when considering career paths

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As matriculants begin to map out possible options for a career path, counselling experts say, registering at tertiary institutions post-matric is not the only direction to follow in order to have a successful career.

Independent career counsellor Telishia Thinnasagaren-Chellan says, in South Africa’s current economic climate, vocational training and entrepreneurship should be explored too.

It has been a long 12 years of schooling career and now that’s over, tough life-altering decisions lie ahead. While many matriculants have mapped out a clear path and have already been accepted at the various tertiary institutes – some remain confused and indecisive.

Counsellor Thinnasagaren-Chellan says, registering for undergraduate studies is not the only direction to take after matric. This is as registration for undergraduate studies at most public universities closed last year.

Applications for 2023 will open in March this year.  She shares the post-matric options for those that have not applied prior and have performed as well as expected.

“Depending on your results, you can either choose to rewrite matric or update matric if you have not met the requirements at the public institutes. Private higher institutes registration is still open and most of them will be open until mid-February. Make sure you meet the requirements, follow the application process and follow through with your studies.”

The announcement of the National Senior Certificate results by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga:

Think out of the box 

Many young people often face pressure from parents to follow conventional career paths. Thinnasagaren-Chellan has advised matriculants to think outside the box when choosing a profession. She says young people with different skills sets are often considered far more employable.

She says applying for vocational training and learning practical skills on the job will help make you marketable to potential employers.

“Find pathways that allow them to function across a wide variety of sectors. Vocational trade where you can apply for internships or leadership, where you are on-site, at the job, learning a skill, right now in SA that is so important. You need to pick a job opportunity where you can function in many sectors. For eg, digital or marketing skills, office or admin skills, this will allow you to function in different sectors while upgrading your skills set.”

Entrepreneurship and self-employment 

Statistics South Africa placed the unemployment rate of 15-to-24-year-olds at 74.7% for the last quarter of 2020, indicating that a vast amount of young people remain without work. Thinnasagaren-Chellan says in an economy performing as poorly as South Africa – creating employment for oneself with existing skills should be considered.

Instead of looking at scarce skills, look at employability levels, so all the skills that are needed that will make you more employable. One of those skills is digital, we call it the digital economy. What 2020 and 2021 did for us is open up the working world. As opposed to going out and looking for it, your best bet is to create it. As you come out of matric, you come out with a set of skills that is very marketable. Instead of just letting it lie, you can always do a short course to update your skills.”

Dealing with disappointment 

While many matriculants are elated after successfully completing their studies,  some have been left feeling dismayed at not obtaining their expected results. Psychologist Rakhi Beekrum says there are lots of options available for those that have been unsuccessful with matric examinations.

She says it is important to deal with the disappointment and then explore what to do next.

“It’s only natural to feel disappointed if you did not get the results you hoped for. Allow yourself to feel that disappointment. Talk about it to someone you trust. Know that matric is a stepping stone but not a determinant of your worth or how successful you going to be. There are options available that you can start to look at once you have dealt with the emotions. My message to parents is that it’s natural to feel disappointed and worried about your child’s future. It is not the time for lectures. What your child needs the most now is your support, help them explore other options whether it’s re-writing matric, bridging courses, or job seeking.”