Workplace opportunities for graduates and school leavers

Graduates are finding that jobs are scarce and their ambitions of just walking into one isn’t going to happen. This is rather a depressing situation after years of hard work at university, but there are just not enough positions available for the number of graduates. Companies aren’t employing or they want people with experience – a catch 22 for graduates. How do you get experience if you can’t get a job?

And for school leavers who cannot afford to go to university but who have the academic acumen, it is also a daunting prospect – how will they ever develop workplace skills if companies won’t help them?

At the end of 2010, South Africa’s unemployment rate was about 24 percent, and concern is growing that economic factors, combined with education challenges, could have a strong negative impact on high school graduates. According to a January 2011 report from Solidarity, a South African trade union, 60% of matriculants will not find employment – a frightening projection!

Further, of the approximately 680 000 school leavers who wrote Grade 12 examinations at the end of last year, only about 230 000 qualified for university studies. Unfortunately, South African public universities only have the capacity to accommodate 130 000 first year students, which leaves about 100 000 young people in the cold.

So what are the prospects for unskilled school leavers and inexperienced graduates? TalentUP was formed to assist graduates and matriculants enter the workplace via internships and learnerships respectively presenting an opportunity for this talent to join the workforce, develop skills, gain experience and potentially lead to permanent employment, with great career prospects.

Says TalentUP managing director, Serena Gopaul: “We are in the business of growing and developing talent – which enables talent capacity building by companies in all industry sectors to invest in the unemployed, school leavers and graduates and introduce them to structured learning programmes within the workplace. And the result? A competent and employable talent pool for the company, while assisting these young people to develop skills and start a career path.”

“We need bridging programmes for both learners leaving school and graduates leaving university to experience constructive orientation into the working environment,” says Gopaul. “TalentUP designs and implements learnerships and graduate development programmes, and recruits candidates through recruitment solutions that identify, attract and secure the best talent that the market has to offer. This ultimately leads to quality 12-month learnership and internship placements within companies.

“On the other hand, some companies are ahead of the game and already have their own programmes in place but find it takes a while to orientate the new recruits to the world of work. We can assist with a short, structured integration programme that helps new entrants to acclimatise to the work environment, and adopt good work practices, professionalism and business ethics. You then have skilled talent ready to be deployed into the business.”

How do school leavers and graduates get on board?

Candidates register by submitting their CVs on-line or through appointed partners. This is followed by a stringent screening process, including personal verification, such as identity documents, academic qualifications and credits, as well as criminal checks. A bouquet of assessment tools ensures that the candidates have the required level of competence to cope with a workplace qualification or exposure.

“Besides establishing learning potential, skills and knowledge, it is really important that we ensure a good fit to the intended qualification. Candidates must have the right attitude and passion for the industry in which they are to be placed,” said Gopaul. “Our interview process evaluates abilities based on past performance and behaviour, which will ultimately predict future performance.

Psychometric assessments include behavioural skills – important for screening candidates for the workplace programme suitability and the job or organisation fit. By focusing on a match between industry needs and the skills and qualifications of the candidates, we achieve a win-win situation for both organisation and candidate. We want to ensure that a common problem of graduates making the tea and not being put to work in the relevant environment and in the right role doesn’t happen.”

Our philosophy is to find the right calibre of candidate for the respective projects. Our database totally focuses on quality candidates, who form a pipeline of talent to resource learnership and internship programmes. Relationships with educational institutions nationally and especially rural out-reach programmes ensures that our data base is representative of talent in all provinces.

Once accepted on a programme, candidates are put through an orientation or workplace integration programme to facilitate a smooth transition from school or campus life into the new work environment. It is a great opportunity to interact with others on the programme and to familiarise themselves with the required ethics and behavioural practices within the work environment.

Theoretical training related to the programme is delivered by various educational institutions with whom TalentUP has partnered. Subject matter experts have developed industry-specific training material and assessment tools, while trainers provide the academic support to ensure a high standard of training and skills development.

“The world of work can be quite intimidating for a young person. But we ensure our candidates are never alone throughout their term. Support is given through regular monitoring of their progress, coaching and counselling sessions, and other communication channels such as a dedicated student portal that allows interactive communication in the form of newsletters, daily alerts and online queries which can be made available; Generation Y students are connected through most forms of social media, tools that TalentUP also uses to engage and support its talent pool,” says Gopaul.

For further information or to submit your CV go to Talent Up or contact Michele Harpur on 082 469 6149.

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