Matric’s over, Now what?

Girl graduate Holding sign with what now on it

From around the end of my Junior School career, I was asked by family, friends, teachers, and complete strangers about what I wanted to do when I grew up; what I wanted to study after Matric.

Now, having grown up in a society that allows one to dream about the future and has ingrained in me the idea that ‘I can become anything I want’, was quite a privilege. It has been a great and wonderful learning journey for me since starting high school and then studying afterwards with as much support as I was given by caring family and friends. Even when I changed my mind about what I wanted to be hundreds of times throughout high school and deciding on where I would study to achieve those dreams.

Unfortunately what I had failed to see is that at the end of such a wonderful learning journey of Secondary and Tertiary education was that even though I might want to be something and study towards that goal/dream job… didn’t necessarily mean that I would get that job… or even a job at all.

Now, I’m not the only one to have had this awful awakening to what the real world has in store for freshly educated twenty somethings. Many of my friends, after studying, have found this out too, as well as new people that I meet every day seem to have found this inconvenient truth.

Dreams very rarely turn into jobs.

Don’t get me wrong, there are those people who have gone through incredibly tough times and have come out on top, but they are the special ones, they are the 1 in a million, the exception to the rule.

For another interesting take on the current state of unemployed educated youths, read this article by Thabang “Abuti Rams” Ramoroka

So this all got me thinking, if I can’t actually get employed in the field that I want because there just isn’t a demand for it in the town/country/continent in which I chose to live, then what am I to do?

After reading our Blog on the National Scarce Skills List, I was taken aback.

Firstly… there’s a NATIONAL SCARCE SKILLS LIST? Wow, I did not know that, even now in 2014. I definitely wasn’t told about this in Matric back in 2007. And I wonder why?

Shouldn’t teachers and tertiary education institutions be gearing youth towards achievable jobs in fields that actually have demand for skilled and trained individuals?

So now I’m thinking what are these scarce Jobs? I took a look and some of them are more of the accounting/actuarial/science/engineering practices, but others are a little bit well… off the grid. Careers, that as a young matriculant, I didn’t even know existed and, more so, didn’t know where or what to study to be able to apply for them.

If I were told at the end of Matric in 2007, “You can study for 3 years for the career of your choice, but you might not get employed, or, you can study 3 years in a field that you may not be too interested in but you will get employment afterward.” I wonder if I would have still studied what I did? I wonder if I would still have been so set on the dream and not realise the reality of unemployment and student loans?

Here’s just a small list of some of the more interesting Job Titles that were fairly off the grid from my personal knowledge bank. Note: I have also added some titles that I was just too stunned to see in the top 100 scarce skills list.

I mean for example 8# Electrician? Now I am obviously very ignorant in this regard. When you ask a small child where the milk comes from – they say the fridge, when you ask me where the electricians come from – I say the phonebook.

Obviously this job requires a ton of effort in studies and understanding of circuits – something I was very switched off about during high school science. Super pun there.

  • The mini-scarce-skills-list:

    8# Electrician – the phonebook: LINK
    20# Millwright – Did not even know what this was- here’s the wiki description. LINK
    27# Industrial Pharmacist – Not someone who sells medicine over the counter to Factories etc, really interesting Job though. LINK
    29# GeologistLINK
    29# Boiler Maker – So not as simple as the name implies, they are craftspersons who create things with steel. LINK
    30# Carpenter and Joiner – “a joiner is a type of a carpenter that cuts and fits joints in wood without the use of nails, screws, or other metal fasteners” – wow. LINK
    33# Welder – “also phonebook example”, where would you study for this? LINK
    35# Retail Pharmacist – Now I didn’t think pharmacists were scarce or rather so scarce to reach the top 100 scarce skills. LINK
    37# Automotive Motor Mechanic – Didn’t realise that there wasn’t enough mechanics in SA, every time I take my car to the garage there seems to be tons of mechanics there. LINK
    48# Electronic Instrument Trades Worker – Didn’t know what this job was. LINK
    86# Water Quality Analyst – Someone had to do it, I just wouldn’t have thought people set out to enter this career path, well apparently not enough people do, hence it’s position in the top 100 scarce skills. LINK
    93# Ship’s Engineer – Basically, you build and maintain ships. LINK
    93# Rigger – Didn’t know what this job was either “is a person or company that specialises in the lifting and moving of extremely large or heavy objects, often with the assistance of a crane”. LINK
    97# Forestry Technician – There’s actually a range of things this career entails. LINK

Maybe some of you know they existed or that they existed on the scarce skills list? Maybe you have a family business or have friends who studied or even currently work in some of these fields? Leave me a comment below, I’d be very interested to find out about your experiences and strange jobs that you may work in or have come across.


Written by

Nicholas Raine



The views expressed in the blog post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the South African College of Business.