Why South Africa Needs Grassroots Graduate Programmes

South Africa has a burgeoning unemployment problem but still so many hiring managers argue that they are struggling to find candidates with the skills that they need. Sure some skills are unique but it’s time to look at this entire scenario from a different angle. There are so many people entering the workforce every year; why are we overlooking them? This is why South Africa needs grassroots programmes and many companies are starting to take this approach.

You’ve Graduated but Can’t Find a Job? Don’t Lose Hope

We’ve all been there. We’ve entered the workforce fresh, naïve and ready to earn our stripes the hard way. Whether we have tertiary education or not, we are most often confronted with a barrage of entry-level jobs requiring experience. Sometimes even so-called internships ask for experience; what kind poppycock is this? Technically is that even an internship? Sure they may offer great experience but are some potential employers asking for too much from graduates? Yes, but there are some who aren’t asking too much and graduates who have the enthusiasm will get their chance to find their niche.

What is a Grassroots Programme?

A Grassroots programme typically plucks people out of less than ideal circumstances, providing education and mentorship in a sustainable manner. The aim is to give people the tools with which they are able to escape the cycle of poverty. The sad truth is that there are many people who are excited, ambitious and willing to learn more but they need a helping hand – that’s what these sorts of programmes give. Call them internships, grassroots programmes or graduate programmes they provide the experience needed to successfully enter the workforce.

Finding the Right Programmes

You might not know where to look to find a grassroots, graduate programme or an internship but don’t let that get in the way. The important thing is to start looking, they won’t find you. Luckily these days Google is at your beck and call day and night and trawling through newspapers is a thing of the past. Large corporations always have something going on, the trick is to find something that’s right for you. Luckily developers are in demand so you are less likely to have to sell your mother to get a foot in the door. Software companies, financial institutions, eCommerce companies and the like are official stomping grounds for graduates who are ready to make their mark. Don’t be afraid to send the emails and make the calls to get in touch with the right people within these organisations.

What to Expect From a Graduate Programme

This is where things get tricky. Any freshly printed piece of paper in your hand doesn’t mean you don’t have to answer the phone and do the grunt work, but you already know this, right? Where you are unable to show a potential employer your value, someone else will. Be ready to say, ‘yes boss, no boss’, and learn as much as you can stomach – that’s the best way to earn your stripes and garner respect from your colleagues.

It Doesn’t Always Go as Planned

You may have been the shining star of your year in university or a straight A student in school but that doesn’t mean your new boss or mentor will even like you. Be prepared for tough criticism and try not to take it personally. You have to be willing to fall and keep getting up and dusting yourself off. The best lessons are learnt through failure, not success. In the end you may even walk away without the opportunity to continue working as a fully fledged staff member but that’s life and at the very least you will have gained more experience that you would have if you didn’t push yourself.

Many employers bemoan the fact that the calibre of graduates entering the workforce just does not meet their expectations. It’s true that the education system has taken a very sharp dive and continues to reach new lows on a yearly basis but throwing your hands up and expecting the problem to solve its self is not the answer. A potential solution does however lie in grassroots and graduate programme. Many companies who are willing to invest their time and effort into growing talent will reap the rewards first hand. At e-Merge we don’t specialise in or offer internships but once you have some experience under your belt, feel free to upload your CV.

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