Terminology related to education in South Africa can often be very confusing, particularly when learners and prospective students need to consider the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and talk of accreditation and registration. It is however very important that prospective students get to grips with the terminology, as not doing so can have serious implications down the line, an education expert says.
Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education provider, says one of the most important aims of the NQF is to protect the general public from abuse by bogus education providers. She also says that by developing an understanding of the NQF, you can make assumptions about registration and accreditation, which makes it all much easier to understand because a qualification that is not registered or accredited is not on the NQF, so it really is your shortcut to working out what is real and what is not.
"South Africa has a register of all qualifications which is managed by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), and this register is referred to as the NQF," she explains.
"We are fortunate in South Africa to have some really strict rules that educational institutions and training providers have to adhere to, so if you want to study there are a few simple questions to ask to which there are very clear answers. If an institution is not clear with you on the answers, the chances are you should be cautious about registering."
Coughlan says that something can only be called a "qualification" if:
"The shortest possible qualification is therefore normally one year as it takes about a year of study to do 120 credits. A degree is normally at least 360 credits and so on. Without these two being in place, what you are studying is considered a short course and not a qualification, so it cannot be called a diploma or degree. So, if a South African institution is offering you a diploma for three weeks of study, it is not legitimate and warning lights should start flashing about that institution."
Coughlan adds that if an education institution cannot provide a prospective student with a programme's NQF ID, caution should be exercised as it is then not a South African qualification.
However, even when an institution does provide an NQF ID, one should still verify it independently by searching for it on http://regqs.saqa.org.za/ .
"Look up the qualification and check its level and credit value, as well as information about what it covers. You can then compare that information to the marketing material given to you by the training provider to make sure that the promises and reality match."
Coughlan says that qualifications will only get registered on the NQF if they have been checked for quality and accredited by the Quality Council with the statutory responsibility for doing this.
South Africa has three of these Quality Councils, she explains.
Coughlan says the level on the NQF gives one an indication of how complicated the subject matter is. Level 10 is where Doctorates are pitched, for instance, while Level 4 is the level of Grade 12.
"Only registered private and public institutions can offer qualifications that are on the NQF, while both private and public institutions can offer on all levels and through approval from all the Quality Councils. This means that the only difference between public (University) institutions and private higher education institutions – which may as a result of regulations not refer to themselves as private universities - is that the public institutions get some subsidy from the government while the private institutions don't."
Coughlan says when one has a clear understanding of the NQF, that information will assist you in deciding what to study and where.
"If, for instance, you want to follow a trade or vocation such as becoming a Chef, you need to find a college (public or private) accredited by the QCTO and registered as a private or public TVET College with a qualification on the NQF.
"If however you want to pursue a higher education qualification such as a Higher Certificate, Degree or Diploma, you can investigate your options among any of the country's 26 public Universities or 116 registered private higher education institutions.
"As always, it is crucial for prospective students to thoroughly investigate all their options, to ensure they find the best fit for themselves in terms of location, campus, and offering."
* Prospective students can find a complete list of all registered private colleges and higher education institutions at: www.dhet.gov.za/SitePages/DocRegisters.aspx .
** GRAPHIC: NQF level breakdown
Occupational Qualifications Sub Framework
DID YOU KNOW?
The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE) is a division of the JSE-listed ADvTECH Group, Africa's largest private education provider. The IIE is the largest, most accredited registered private higher education institute in South Africa, and the only one accredited by The British Accreditation Council (BAC), the independent quality assurance authority that accredits private institutions in the UK. By law, private higher education institutions in South Africa may not call themselves Private Universities, although registered private institutions are subject to the same regulations, accreditation requirements and oversight as Public Universities.
The IIE has a history in education and training since 1909, and its brands - Rosebank College, Varsity College, The Business School at Varsity College and Vega - are widely recognised and respected for producing workplace-ready graduates, many of whom become industry-leaders in their chosen fields. The IIE offers a wide range of qualifications, from post-graduate degrees to short courses, on 20 registered higher education campuses across South Africa.
It is easy to dismiss mid-year exams – which learners across South Africa will write in coming weeks - as less significant than end-of-year exams, but that would be a mistake, an expert says.
Peter Kriel, General Manager at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education institution, says mid-year exams play a significant role, and a very specific one in each grade, and should be taken as seriously as final exams.
"Many learners view mid-year exams as a kind of practice run before the big race at the end of the year, but that analogy is not the right one. In fact, from Grade 8, exams should be viewed as progressively building a house, laying the foundations, building with bricks and cement, rounding off and finally, putting the roof on the end product when you finish your Matric exams.
"If the foundations you lay at the start of your senior high years are not solid, or you neglect to ensure your walls are solidly built in subsequent years, you can attempt to put on the most beautiful roof in your Matric year, but it just won't work."
Kriel says each exam, and specifically each mid-year exam, plays a unique role as learners progress through senior high school.
In this, high school learners' first significant mid-year exam, they start to get a good feel for and indication of their interests and strengths.
"You'll start to see what you're good at, and what needs more work if you are going to succeed in a specific subject," says Kriel.
He says learners should start applying these insights to start focusing their thinking around what they want to study after school.
"That finding will, in turn, help you make the very important choices about which subjects you'll select in Grade 9. If you start this thinking now, your path will crystallise sooner rather than later, which will help you focus your performance and efforts on your work, not on deciding what you want to do after school, or about the anxiety about which subjects to select next year."
Kriel says before settling on a future path, learners should use their time advantage in Grade 8 to thoroughly investigate all their options for higher education institutions and qualifications, and very importantly, entry requirements for each.
With subject choices coming up for Grade 10 – 12, it's important to achieve good marks in those subjects that the learner would like to pursue to their finals in Matric. Grade 9 mid-years provide an indication of aptitude and likely future success in a subject. This insight allows a learner to make a call on whether to continue pursuing a subject despite less than stellar performance – which will mean working extra hard and getting additional help.
On the other hand, a learner may decide to rather switch to a different subject – it is not too late at this stage – to ensure a better average mark in years to come.
"It is important to ensure that you don't, for instance, drop a subject which would have kept doors open, unless you are absolutely sure you won't need it as an entry requirement at your chosen institution and for your chosen course," says Kriel.
As in Grade 9, a poor mid-year performance may indicate that the learner needs to choose another subject to replace one that isn't working out. The difference is that this is the last opportunity to make a substitution, for instance moving from Maths to Maths Literacy, or substituting Accounting for Business Studies.
From this year on, mid-year exams become even more significant, because learners can already use these marks to apply to their institution of choice early with provisional marks. Doing so will take mountains of stress and admin off them in the coming year and a half, when all their energies should be focused on their Matric preparation.
Matric mid-year exam marks can – and should – be used to apply to a higher education institution if this was not yet done.
"If you haven't yet at this stage applied, ensure that you do so as soon as possible," says Kriel.
"Focus on your exams for now, but resolve to use the June holidays to visit all the good, registered and accredited institutions in your area to investigate what they have on offer, and get your application in before the stresses of the final months of your final year of school."
Matric mid-year exams also provide learners a valuable arsenal of insight into where they need to focus their attention and efforts in coming months, to ensure they get the very best final marks they can, Kriel says.
"All exams should also be viewed as an opportunity to get feedback on how well you handle exams, and to practise that skill if you find that the actual sitting down in the exam room and managing anxiety, despite your best preparation, is what you need to work on," says Kriel.
Vega, a brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE), congratulates four of its students and their navigators for receiving top honours as the only South African tertiary institution to be recognised in 2017 international WPO competition!
Vega campuses across the country are buzzing with excitement after four students were recognised in the 2017 WPO International Packaging Design Student Competition, a global platform open exclusively to students who have won awards for packaging design in their home countries.
Eliana Raff and Page Lotze received a WorldStar Student Certificate of Merit for their joint project, “Ripe Time, Ripe Place”.
Casey Ogilvie and Jason Walden each received a WorldStar Certificate of Recognition for their packaging submissions for and Bakers Eet-Sum-Mor Biscuits and Ensure. These students were part of Vega’s 2017 entries for the local IPSA Goldpack Awards, who were entered into the WPO International Packaging Design Student Competition.
“We are so proud of all our students whose work made it to such a prestigious and globally-recognised platform,” says Ria van Zyl, Academic Navigator at Vega.
“This achievement is particularly special for both the school and the students as it is the first time Vega has been recognised in these awards.”
Many students will, for the first time, encounter what is called an open book assessment once they start writing tests and exams at their public university or private higher education institution. And while the open book method is a great tool for measuring depth of understanding, too many students initially – and mistakenly - think that taking a book into the testing centre means little to no preparation is required. This could not be further from the truth, an education expert warns.
"Open book assessments are more engaging to the students, because they need to use a combination of memory, creativity and logical thinking. They also result in less pre-assessment anxiety for the students knowing they don't need to recall facts. This is especially advantageous to students who have difficulty in this area," says Nola Payne, Head of Faculty: Information and Communications Technology at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education institution.
Payne says that it is however a major misconception that an open book assessment means there is no need to study or prepare before the exam.
"This is untrue, because students need to really engage with the material, understand how the concepts and theory can be applied and they should, in particular, practise any numeracy or practical content before they enter the exam room," she says.
Time management is also a factor in open book assessments, adds Payne.
"There is little time for students to page through their textbooks and other resources searching for answers. A good open book assessment will not have the answers in the permitted resources, but rather refer to the methods and related content. The assessment will still need to be engaged with and students required to provide a carefully considered response."
Payne says there is a familiar scenario that plays out for many students who are not used to the open book method of testing.
"Firstly, there may be a misconception that you don't need to study, because you will have access to prescribed textbooks and resources, which is false.
"Secondly, upon sitting down and reading the exam, students may realise that the books won't contain the answers as they may have thought.
"And then finally, the student may realise that the examiner doesn't want recalled facts, but a deeper understanding of the content."
It is therefore incumbent on all good institutions to ensure that new students – many of whom will be unfamiliar with the open book approach – are properly coached before entering the exam room, says Payne.
HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS MUST MODERNISE TESTING METHODS
In addition to ensuring students are empowered to perform optimally when taking open book tests, good institutions need to review and update the methodology of these kinds of tests, with particular attention to developments in the digital space, she says.
"Traditionally, open book assessments allowed students access to printed material authorised by their lecturers," notes Payne.
"That was acceptable when students purchased hard copy textbooks or used articles or publication as references. This is no longer the case. A large proportion of students, both nationally and internationally, no longer purchase hard copy books but rather make use of e-books, online videos, tutorials and web pages for their content and to enhance their learning. Taking this learning style into account, academic assessment methods need to adapt to the digital age."
However too many institutions remain reluctant to change their assessment methods and have discounted "the new way of learning" that the current generation of students use.
"Progressive institutions must make the necessary digital resources available for students to reference in the open book assessment, but still ensure that the assessment requires the students to use these as references and not search for an answer in the permissible resources.
"By providing access to these digital resources, it would be important for the institution to build in restrictions such as that no student will be able to message their peers. These can be restricted (along with locking down browsers) by using smart software solutions," she says.
The open book assessment makes sense when one looks forward to the workplace, where an employee will never be given a task while not being permitted to complete it by accessing the internet.
"The employer expects the employee to have the fundamental knowledge for their chosen career, but expects the employee to be able to use that knowledge to construct a solution – much like an open book assessment," says Payne.
She argues that if citizens and employees of today (and in future) are expected to have access to the internet to perform certain tasks in their daily lives, it doesn't make sense that institutions would be reluctant to test students without this resource and rather use traditional closed book assessments.
"We need to prepare our next generation to be able to adapt to the workplace and provide them the necessary skills to use to be more efficient and effective in their careers.
"Employers would prefer to have employees that can use all the tools available to them to come up with great solutions and not employees who are great at recalling facts. There will always be things we don't know, and this includes specialists in all areas or disciplines. The amount we don't know far exceeds that which we do. And the most valuable skill we can provide our youth is being able to sort and filter relevant information and apply it in a meaningful way."
Alex Sudheim is a Senior Copywriting Lecturer at The Independent Institute of Education's Vega School in Cape Town, and a practising professional copywriter. Careers24 chatted to Alex to find out more about his career and share some of his advice for others looking to get into this line of work both in terms of copywriting and lecturing.
After graduating with an English, Politics and Economics degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, Alex started writing stories about the more offbeat aspects of his home city’s culture and people. A series of these vignettes was published in the Mail & Guardian.
“Soon I was the KZN Arts & Culture correspondent for the M&G. For four years I wrote about art, theatre, dance, music and cinema in KZN and won the Thomas Pringle Award from the South African English Institute for my efforts,” he says.
He was then head-hunted by an executive from the prestigious international ad agency Ogilvy, and offered a job as a copywriter. At the time, he says, he didn’t even know what a copywriter was.
“My school guidance counsellors appeared oblivious to the existence of ‘copywriting’ as a viable and lucrative vocation for students who loved words, language, arguing, and articulating ideas," he says.
“But soon I was crafting concept-driven narrative for brands such as Old Mutual, Unilever, Mondi, Wonderbra, East Coast Radio and more in mediums from print to billboard to online to interactive. It was exciting, fun and it paid well. How come the guidance counselling profession hadn’t heard of this?”
After making the transition from copywriter to copywriting lecturer seven years ago, he hasn’t looked back.
“I continue to be inspired and fulfilled by guiding hungry young minds toward richly rewarding academic and professional careers. In my tenure as Senior Copywriting Lecturer thus far I have navigated my students to 11 Loeries, including the coveted Campaign Gold in 2017, and 6 Pendorings.”
Alex shared what his day to day looks like. To make the teaching and learning experience at Vega a more dynamic one, the creative degrees (Copywriting, Graphic Design, Multimedia Design) are broken into theory classes; craft classes; individual feedback sessions and in-studio work.
“Daily activities predominantly involve lecturing, consulting and critiquing. Aside from the classes themselves, much time is spent on curriculum development – course content is in constant transformation in order to remain aligned with tumultuous changes in industry.”
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Business consultant, serial entrepreneur, and author Brent Spilkin, in partnership with Digitlab Academy, has turned his book What the Freelance (WTF) into a 12-week course at Vega School, a brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE). The book is set to launch in March.
"There is a lot of information packed into those 313 pages, and that’s why I’ve turned it into the book you can’t buy," says Spilkin. Anyone who is freelancing in the digital or creative space, contemplating freelancing, or looking to improve their efficiency in managing freelancers, can now access information in bite-size, digestible and implementable pieces."We know the gig economy is growing," adds Spilkin. "Now is the time to upskill yourself and learn the tools to make your freelance career lucrative and sustainable. It’s not just about freedom and flexibility, but about being profitable and successful."The 12-week short course is available at Vega campuses in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, and Durban. Sessions will take place on Thursday evenings from 17:30 to 20:30 and will be facilitated by experienced Vega Navigators. The course will be repeated in July and September. The total cost is R14 200.00 and payment terms are available. It’s also the only way individuals can get the book."We are proud to be able to deliver the WTF short course in partnership with Spilly, which we believe aligns perfectly with Vega’s aim of nurturing well-rounded, conceptually and strategically minded future leaders of industry, capable of finding solutions to the world’s challenges," says Shevon Lurie, MD of Vega.For more information, visit www.whatthefreelance.com or www.vegaschool.com.
As thousands of First Year students head off to varsity in coming weeks, education experts say they should embrace the excitement and opportunity, but also ensure they start off on the right track to ensure they make a success of their studies right from the get-go.
"The demands of school and the demands of higher education are worlds apart, and new students need to understand what new challenges will come their way, and how to handle these," says Dr Gillian Mooney, Dean: Academic Development and Support at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education provider.
"Most importantly, and especially for those students who excelled at school with not too much effort, they need to understand that 'winging it' is no longer an option," she says.
"Some people managed to attain good marks at school with very little work, but this will not be possible at university. There is a big jump up from high school in the expectations on students in terms of the volume and complexity of the work, and there is simply no substitute for long hours spent in the library."
Tshidi Mathibe, Head of Programme: IIE Faculty of Commerce, says going to university is an opportunity for amazing growth and there will be no other time in life when a person has such freedom to discover who they are and where they want to go in life.
"However your higher education experience is unlikely to be like anything that you have seen on television and in films. Yet while this new world can be intimidating, there are a few things you can almost certainly expect, and being prepared to respond to these in an informed and mature manner will dramatically increase your chances of success."
Mathibe says to make the most of the opportunity, First Years should take note of the following:
1. It is important to attend Orientation Week
Orientation Week, or O-Week, is typically held a week before classes start. It is not compulsory to attend O-Week, but it is a great chance to meet new people, obtain information about your campus and all the activities offered, and just have some fun.
2. Every new student is just as anxious as you are to make friendsYou can feel quite anxious when you are new to a campus and don't know anyone. It may also seem like everybody else already has friends. This is probably not the case, and many students are in a similar boat."You will meet lots of people who may be very different from you," says Mathibe. "There will be people from different cultures, economic backgrounds and academic levels. This is an opportunity for you to have new experiences, and broaden your frame of reference."
3. Make a friend in every classIt is a very good idea to make a friend in each class that you have. This will allow you to discuss the course material and have someone to take notes for you if you have to miss a class (but don't make a habit of it).
4. Understand the difference between lectures and tutorialsLectures are generally large classes, often with hundreds of people in large venues, particularly if you are attending a public university. "In lectures, you may feel like you are just a lonely student in a vast sea of bodies. Tutorials however are generally smaller classes, and students often feel less intimidated in tutorials which means they are a good opportunity to ask questions and make new friends. Make an effort to attend every lecture and tutorial, as lecturers and tutors are there to explain difficult concepts and to assist you with your learning," says Mooney.
5. You may feel anonymous
At school, your teacher knew your name - and probably a lot more - about you. At a university with large classes it will not be possible for the lecturer to learn all the names of hundreds of students, or to have insight into their unique circumstances. In private higher education institutions, the situation may be different because of smaller class sizes. Whatever the case may be, ensure you get to know your student number by heart, as this is the way you will be identified.
"The most important thing to remember as you enter higher education, is that there will be no spoon-feeding and that you are in charge of your own learning," says Mooney.
"If you miss a lecture, or do not submit an assignment, no-one will care. Teachers at school would nag you about your homework, but at university you need to know when assignments are due, and when and where tests are being written. So right from the start, commit to taking responsibility for yourself, your learning and success."
Finally, do not be afraid to ask for help, Mathibe says.
"A good higher education institution will always have support structures in place, such as student guidance and career centres. Make use of these support structures, as they will have trained and experienced counsellors to guide you and help you make a success of your studies."
As First Years prepare to head off to higher education for the first time, many are having second thoughts about their chosen course or institution. While feelings of uncertainty are healthy and normal, an education expert also warns parents and prospective students to rather look at all their options now and change course right away if necessary, instead of taking a wait-and-see approach.
"SA's first year dropout rate is significant, but at an individual level, this costly outcome could in many instances have been avoided if prospective students took more time to ensure they investigated all offerings in terms of institutions and qualifications," says Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education provider.
She says that it is often the case that learners applied for the same qualifications or at the same institutions as their friends, opted for a standard 3-year degree without knowing much about what it entails, or decided on their course because of pressure and expectations from others.
"There is so much research evidence that success in first year requires that students are doing something that has meaning to them and not just what they have always been expected to do. So if there is any chance that there is a better fit available, even at this late stage, we encourage students and their families to make the move now. This applies equally to high performing students who are often the ones who have the most choices and yet still find themselves doing something they do not actually want to do or being somewhere that does not match their personal needs."
The pressure – particularly for strong students – to pursue a traditional degree at a traditional institution is very strong. Now that they have their excellent results in their hands, those with an interest in a career focused professional qualification such as accounting, law or teaching, or whose interests lie in a new and exciting career path such as brand management, digital marketing, network engineering, game design and development, and application and cloud development, should take this last opportunity to confirm that they are making the right choices for themselves. This means looking beyond the public system too.
"Private higher education is increasingly becoming the study route of choice, in line with international trends, for students who want quality workplace-oriented and recognised qualifications, niche degrees, smaller class sizes and modern campuses."
Coughlan points out that because South Africa has a single quality assurance system and one National Qualifications Framework, any institution offering a registered and accredited qualification – whether public or private – is offering a qualification of equal standing, which means that prospective students may have many more, and more exciting, options than they may have realised.
And while there is no state subsidy for private institutions, which means that the cost of private higher education is still sometimes higher than at public universities, this cost is often offset in the long run because of improved results.
"Private institutions are often far more affordable from a broader perspective than members of the public seem to realise. And because these campuses are mostly relatively small with class sizes rarely exceeding 100 students, individual focus and therefore higher success rates are the norm.
"As a result, proportionally more students graduate, making the overall educational experience a real value for money opportunity."
Coughlan says choices about tertiary education must be based on a thorough assessment of the fit between personal aspiration, circumstances and the institutional choices available. And if a prospective student is already having second thoughts, the time re-assess is now, while there is still time.
This advice also holds true for those Matrics who may have been pleasantly surprised with their results, achieving a Bachelor's pass when they didn't expect it, or achieving top scores when they expected more modest ones.
"If you haven't yet made study plans, and now you did better than you thought you would, or you were too late and now do not have a place, it makes sense to use the month that you have now to be sure about what you are doing.
"Ultimately, Matrics should honestly determine whether they are excited about the degree they are soon to embark on, and that they are signed up with a higher education institution that will give them what they need. If the answers are not resoundingly yes and yes, the following weeks are the opportune time to investigate all options and change direction before it is too late."
Thousands of learners from the Matric Class of 2017 who did not do as well as required - and their parents - are feeling anxious and uncertain about the future, but an education expert says it is important to know that there are a number of options that can get learners back on track.
"The most important thing for both parents and learners having sleepless nights over their results, is to not panic," says Fathima Razack, Head of Programme: Faculty of Commerce at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education provider.
"While it might feel like the end of the world at the moment, clear heads and a pragmatic approach are required to make the right decisions for the future," she says.
It is particularly important for adults to manage their response, as their emotional state could impact on the resilience of learners in the wake of the release of results.
"Although parents and guardians may feel deeply disappointed, they should know that their first words and reactions may leave a lasting impact.
"They should take stock and consider their unified position so that the energy can be focused on the learner and their next steps," says Razack.
The options open to learners who failed, but who are determined to still earn their National Senior Certificate, include:
Those learners who passed, but didn't achieve the marks required for entrance into degree study, have the following options:
"It is also important to remember that while your marks may not have been good enough to get access to your first choice of course or institution, that doesn't mean you have no other study options left. Quite the opposite in fact, so parents and prospective students should ensure that they have really investigated the offerings at both public universities and private higher education institutions.
"Each university and private higher education provider set their own minimum criteria, and these requirements vary between institutions. An institution where the demand outweighs the availability of space may set this bar quite high, which means they are likely to accept only students who are very strong academically. Other institutions may have made provision for students who require more support, and will therefore have more accommodating admission requirements.
"That means it may not be necessary to repeat Grade 12 or rewrite a subject, as there could be alternatives available in your chosen field of study," says Razack.
The most important thing to remember is that below par matric results don't have to mean giving up on one's dreams and aspirations, she says.
"If parents and learners can handle this situation maturely, and strategise their next steps instead of getting stuck in a catastrophising mindset, disappointing performance could be just the catalyst needed to propel a learner in a new and better direction, with more determination and resolve than before."
With years of hard work and the exhilaration of graduation behind them, the real effort now starts for new graduates, to get their foot in the door of the world of work. With SA's high unemployment rate and many candidates competing for limited opportunities, the job search can be a daunting task.
But two education experts say that with the right approach, a search can result in success sooner rather than later.
"There are a number of things you need to consider when launching your job search to ensure that you stand a better chance," says Sifiso Mnisi, Head of Programme: Faculty of Humanities at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education provider.
Consideration 1: Change your mindset and get positive
"Looking for a job is a fulltime job on its own," says Mnisi.
"Therefore, to start on a positive note, tell yourself that you already have a job. This step requires you to position yourself socially, chronologically, and professionally so that you can start thinking like an employed person."
Mnisi advises graduates to be patient but consistent.
"Create a schedule with a set number of hours a day to search for your dream position, sending out applications and making enquiries about job opportunities."
Because the job search – and the inevitable rejections - can be emotionally and psychologically exhausting, it is important that graduates not let it consume them.
"Take nothing at a personal level, and try to enjoy the process, which is also an important opportunity to learn and grow."
Consideration 2: Update your CV and tailor it to each position
Your first point of departure is your curriculum vitae (CV) and the cover letter, says Fathima Razack, The IIE's Head of Programme: Faculty of Commerce.
"These are the first documents that potential employers will see and should show who you are why you are suitable for their vacancy. Employers need to know that you are a good fit for their company, so your focus should be on convincing them that you are the best candidate for the job."
Razack says CVs must be tailored to the requirements of each position. Additionally, CVs should be relevant to the field of work. A CV for a creative or advertising position will look different to a more traditional CV in the field of finance, for instance.
"At the end of the day it is not just about the employer finding you, but also about you finding the employer and position that are right for you.
"Carefully read the job specifications, for example the requirements in terms of qualifications, experience and skills. Make sure to match it to the requirements of the job that you are applying for. When doing that, also be honest with yourself about whether you would enjoy doing that job."
Consideration 3: Create a strong online presence and professional personal brand
A strong online presence is crucial and graduates should actively manage theirs, says Mnisi.
"Create Google alerts for specific vacancies and register your CV with reputable recruitment agencies and jobs portals such PNet and Bizcommunity," he says.
"These days, employers often scour social media in search of suitable candidates. A good LinkedIn profile is very important here as it allows you to be seen by professionals and as a professional. Follow companies and professionals on social media to see what is happening in their world, and to stay abreast of developments in your industry."
Consideration 4: Do your homework
Razack says the most important part of the job hunt starts when a company signals interest.
She says that prior to an interview, graduates should do their research on the company, the position, and the industry in general, to thoroughly understand:
Consideration 5: Don't stand still
Mnisi says it is imperative that graduates keep learning, keep abreast of developments in their industry, and make a real effort to network and make contacts.
"Make yourself a promise and commit to an attitude of lifelong learning," he advises.
"Constantly update your skills, do a short course to widen your knowledge and qualifications base, work with a mentor or volunteer. All these things grow you as a person and increase your competitiveness in the job market," he says.
Additionally, graduates should approach the career centres of their higher education institutions.
"The best institutions have fantastic graduate employability programmes, and could help you with preparing for interviews, identifying vacancies, or reviewing your CV if it doesn't seem to be making the cut."
Razack adds that for each application, graduates must take their time and be thorough.
"Every effort that you put in will help you to either refine your skills or develop your resilience or focus. Remember that as much as you are looking for them, they are looking for you too!