On The Job Training and work experience trumps a Degree

AUGUST 8, 2016

According to the 2016 IMF Working Paper on South Africa’s Labour Market Dynamics and Inequality, large skill mismatches, poor educational outcomes, and the apartheid legacies have hurt South Africa’s job growth and have perpetuated inequality. Unemployment, especially amongst South Africa’s youth, women and black population, remains unacceptably high.

The research states that while improving the quality of education is key to addressing the long-term unemployment challenge, more must be done to provide experience to young, first-time entrants to the workforce.

KC Makhubele, president of the Federation of African Professional Staffing Organisations (APSO), an industry body committed to the upliftment and professionalisation of the labour recruitment industry in South Africa, agrees.

“Providing necessary on-the-job training and formal or informal work experience to South Africa’s youth is a win win, and should be seen as a pressing priority. Employers will benefit by receiving an Employment Tax Incentive and young job-seekers will benefit by gaining the skills or experience needed to drive the economy forward. In my opinion, this is the key to reducing unemployment,” says Makhubele.

Makhubele notes that according to the IMF Working Paper, those with prior work-experience have almost 50% higher job-finding rate than those without experience.  With this in mind, he offers the following advice to employers:

  • Job specs need to be looked at - Employers should allow candidates to interview for positions even though they may not have a related academic degree.
  • Unofficial job experience counts - Has the person worked within the industry previously but in an unofficial capacity or volunteered for a charity organisation? Six years’ experience (even if voluntary) counts for a lot.
  • Learning on the job - Investing in someone even though they lack qualifications means that they can be trained on the job. If a quick, willing learner and hard worker, they can gain the skills needed for your company.
  • Ask important questions - How entrepreneurial is the candidate? How willing are they to take the initiative? Have they worked hard at anything in their life? How high is their EQ? All of these qualities can be crucial predictors of success, sometimes even more than a degree.
  • Think out of the box - When seeking the right people for your organisation, really think about what you want them to be like instead of only relying on academic degrees and qualifications to help make your decision.

“While having a degree might help candidates excel in their careers, it does not guarantee it. Putting work readiness plans in place is essential to boost employment rates,” concludes Makhubele.