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The 2016 PPS Student Confidence Index which surveyed over 1500 South African students, revealed that they are least confident in exploring entrepreneurial opportunities (62%), or opening a private practice (62%) upon graduation, when compared to confidence in opportunities available to them in the formal sector (66%). Motshabi Nomvethe, Technical Marketing Specialist at PPS, states that these results indicate that there is a need for tertiary institutions to actively promote entrepreneurship as an attractive and viable career opportunity among South Africa‟s graduate students.
“It is however very positive to note that when asked whether students were confident that their degree sufficiently prepared them for their chosen profession, respondents revealed a confidence level of 84% - up from 76% recorded in 2015. The majority of students (60%) also indicated that it was more important for them to secure employment than to obtain a post-graduate degree,” she says.
According to Nomvethe, it was clear from the focus groups that students are keen to secure employment once they have graduated, in order to gain work experience, as they realise that they could always continue to study on a part-time basis while they work.
The 2016 PPS Student Confidence Index (SCI) was conducted among students in their fourth year or above, studying at a university or university of technology towards a profession-specific degree, such as engineering, medicine, law or accounting. Students answered questionnaires online, face-to-face on campus and via focus groups. “There is a definite need for South African tertiary institutions to increase their efforts to promote and foster entrepreneurial skills to empower graduates within professional occupations to open a private practice, consultation or business.”
“For example, it might seem very simple for a young qualified medical or dental practitioner to open a private practice, but, in reality, the practice will not succeed if the young graduate is not equipped with the necessary entrepreneurial skills. It is vital that today‟s youth get taught about business management practices as these skills will determine the success of opening up their own business or practice, and they will also create further employment by employing a support team in their venture,” states Nomvethe.
She also points to the latest employment statistics. “With an estimated 26,7% of South Africa‟s population being unemployed, according to the latest Stats SA Labour Force Survey, it is vital that more young graduates turn to entrepreneurship in order to develop a successful business in their chosen field, should they be unable to find work after graduating.”
During the focus groups, the general consensus was that formal employment remains the front runner and a private practice as the „runner-up‟ when it comes to career aspiration. “The majority of today‟s students still seem to prefer stability and security over the potentially volatile environment of entrepreneurship.
“Government, tertiary institutions and big corporations should do more to foster an entrepreneurial culture and spirit locally to ensure that the future Herman Mashaba’s (founder of Black Like Me) and Elon Musk‟s (founder of Tesla Motors) of South Africa are nurtured and grown within the country,” concludes Nomvethe.