What’s next: A guide to life after matric


You’ve made it through high school and are about to write your final matric exams. While it feels great to finally be approaching the end of your secondary school journey, you can’t help but feel a little anxious about what the future holds.

Where to from here? Should you continue studying or gain practical experience in the workplace? Do you have what it takes to be a young entrepreneur? Will someone hire you straight out of school with no experience?

Nelly Mofokeng, managing director at JA South Africa, says these are just some of the hair-raising questions that school-leavers are often faced with, but it’s important to remember that there are a range of options available to you, even if you aren’t going to be attending university.

Go into a trade

Studying further does not always mean going to university. An option is to go into a trade and take a course at a technical institution like a TVET college. These are often linked to practical work experience programmes in fields such as hairdressing, electrical work or motor mechanics, which can lead to employment once you obtain the necessary certification. There are also workplace apprenticeships that school-leavers can apply for, which can give you the advantage of earning an income while learning a trade.

Pro tip: Applying for a learnership or getting a foot in the door of a company that offers apprenticeships requires a well-written, error-free CV, so make sure you take the time to work on developing one. Customise your CV based on where you’re applying so make sure you do some research into each option to find the best way to approach them.

Find a nine to five

Anyone who has tried to find work straight out of school will attest to how difficult it can be, especially when many employers require candidates to have a certain amount of work experience. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to land a job. A few ways you can go about finding a skill-level appropriate job include searching on job-listing websites like Indeed and Bizcommunity, and posting on social media.

Pro tip: Clean up your social media presence to ensure prospective employers aren’t put off hiring you after seeing any inappropriate content. It’s also a good idea to create a LinkedIn profile (or update your existing one) that includes all your current school and work experience, as well any skills you may have.

Be your own boss

Starting a business is no walk in the park, but the world of entrepreneurship is filled with life-changing opportunities for those willing to work hard and dedicate their time and effort to growing a successful venture. You don’t necessarily have to have a lot of money or resources to start with – some of the world’s most successful businesses started off small. All you need is an idea – something that fulfils a particular need – and the determination to learn, and see it through. It’s tough, but certainly not impossible.

Pro tip: Start small and make Christmas cards or treats that you can sell leading up to the festive season. Also, consider finding a successful and experienced entrepreneur in your community to help mentor and guide you through the process of starting and growing a business.

Reaching the end of your final year of high school can be scary, but it’s important to remember that there’s more than one option available to you, provided you put in the time, effort and a little bit of creativity to make it work.

To find out more about JA South Africa, visit