Despite South Africa’s massive unemployment crisis, there remains great demand in the world of work for suitably qualified employees in a range of fields. At the same time, there are thousands upon thousands of young people who are convinced that gaining the necessary skills to fill these positions are out of their reach, for a host of reasons which are often based on incorrect perceptions.
“When people think of further study, they often think that the only worthwhile option is degree study at a public university. This could not be further from the truth,” says Elbie Liebenberg, Managing Director of Oxbridge Academy, which serves more than 20 000 South African distance learning students every year.
She says there is a range of misperceptions about study options which results in the unfortunate situation that young people give up hope too soon, and never realise their personal and professional potential.
“We would like to urge learners, and those who have already left school, with no idea where to go from here, to consider whether they are being held back because of false beliefs about their own abilities and the conviction that there are no opportunities out there,” Liebenberg says.
She says it is usually one or a combination of the following myths which cause individuals to not pursue further study:
MYTH 1: I AM NOT SMART ENOUGH
“Our society focuses on the high achievers – the Masters and Doctoral graduates who perform in their respective fields. For many of us, degree and post-graduate study is indeed not the right path. However, there are thousands of companies and small-to-medium businesses that need the skills required to do specific jobs in specific fields where a vocational qualification is more desirable than, for instance, a Bachelor of Arts degree.
“So if you thought studying meant going to university, and that that is the only worthwhile option, you are quite mistaken.”
Liebenberg says that there are hundreds of vocational qualifications that are accessible even to young people who did not pass Matric, or passed without university exemption, and that people who have no idea about what to do with their future should make a serious effort to investigate courses available at registered and respected institutions.
“Do some online research, and investigate both the qualifications on offer, as well as the institution offering the qualification. Make sure that you check out online testimonials, because there you will find the opinions of people just like you. Importantly, make sure that the promise of the institution and the testimonials of alumni align, because that means you can be sure you will be looked after on your study journey, and that you will receive the support you require on your road to success.”