The African National Congress welcomes the results of the recent study into graduate unemployment released by the Centre for Development and Enterprise. According to the report entitled “GRADUATE UNEMPLOYMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA: A much exaggerated problem”, the number of graduates in South Africa has more than doubled since 1995, increasing from 465 000 graduates in 1995 to 1.1 million graduates in 2011. Black graduates now account for half of that population.
Critically, the report dispels the myth that South Africa is plagued by a large number of unemployed graduates. According to the study, less than 5% of all graduates or approximately 50 000 graduates out of the total population of 1.1 million university graduates, are unemployed. These results must call into question the often-touted paradigm that there is a skills mismatch in the economy and that the output of our tertiary institutions is not aligned to the needs of the economy. Amongst others, programmes such as structured learnerships and internships have yielded significant results in refining the skills acquired at tertiary institutions and providing practical experience thus making the graduates more productive and employable. The higher education system must continue to popularise and entrench further education and training, not as an alternative to universities, but rather as a viable and attractive option to build the much-needed technical skills base in our country.
While much more still needs to be done to ensure universal access to higher education for all South Africans, particularly the poorest of the poor, the conclusions reached by the study are an affirmation of the successes of the policies and programmes of the ANC led government in higher education and should provide impetus to do even better moving forward.The African National Congress has no doubt that the results of the study shall serve as an inspiration to young people, reaffirming there are opportunities for them in our collective future which shall be even better today. We trust too that young people will pursue education for socio-economic freedom confident that in our country a higher education qualification is one of our invaluable tools in the fight against poverty and unemployment. The doors of learning are indeed opening and inroads are being made to redress the imbalances of the past.