By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa
A university degree is not the only road to success for South African matriculants – experts declare.
In a report produced in 2011 it was noted that fewer than 50, 000 placements available at top universities across SA, students will have to face the sobering reality that a university degree might not be on the cards for 2011 and beyond.
However, experts advise that learners are missing a multitude of career opportunities by not considering vocational training study options.
Global research shows that students pursuing vocational training are hailed by employers across the world as a top commodity. Companies often prefer work-ready employees with applied skills and knowledge as opposed to academics with little to no on-the-job experience.
There is still however a perception that tertiary education is top-drawer in terms of quality and resultant career success.
Though universities undoubtedly offer qualifications within professional fields, the reality is that this route is not for everyone.
Restrictive entry level requirements and exorbitant costs make education inaccessible for many students.
The good news is that there are numerous alternative options for study in areas such as hospitality, photography, health and skin care therapy, IT or event management.
These paths of study open up a world of opportunity thanks to the hands-on approach they adopt.
One of the major benefits to vocational training is its ability to deliver effective education for employment an aspect that is currently lacking within the education and training systems of many institutions around the world.
According to a survey conducted by Edexcel, one of the largest qualifications organisations in the world, and part of Pearson, the gap between educational outputs and industry requirements is simply too large.
Typically, course content is not sufficiently related to the workplace, particularly in academic education.
Commenting on vocational qualifications, Ian Yoell, African Regional Director of Edexcel said then: “Students now have a variety of new study options available to them. They simply need to look beyond the traditional tertiary education environment.” He adds, “Vocational qualifications open doors to numerous creative and niche careers so theres no need to be despondent about the future.”
With the current state of South Africas job market, further education and training offers the best opportunities for learners to avoid unemployment. However, competition remains fierce and its imperative that school-leavers embark on a course of study that really succeeds in equipping them for the workplace.
Edexcel, a Pearson company, is the UK’s largest awarding organisation offering academic and vocational qualifications and testing to schools, colleges, employers
and other places of learning in the UK and internationally. The company operates in more than 100 countries with 9 million examination scripts completed every year.