The continuously evolving nature of the world of work has led to an increasing demand for tertiary institutions to produce graduates who are employable in the sense that they are equipped with a range of knowledge, skills and attributes that enable them to succeed in the world of work and in life.
The 21st-century work environment undoubtedly requires a much more multi-skilled and self-sufficient labour force. To ensure their success in their chosen occupations, both now and in the future, graduates need skills that enhance their graduate and personal profiles, as well as skills that will assist them to meaningfully contribute to the workforce, the community and the economy.
According to Elmarie Liebenberg, Deputy Director: Student Services at the University of Pretoria (UP), there is a growing need for graduates to be work-ready when they are about to enter the job market for the first time. 'At UP we aim to produce graduates who are agile, who understand how the workplace functions and who can see how their skills fit into it. Graduates should realise that a degree is no longer enough to guarantee employment or a satisfying career. Companies are increasingly looking for work-ready graduates who, in addition to their academic qualifications, have job-specific skills that will enable them to start making a difference.'
The University's Career Services Unit was specifically designed to provide co-curricular support to students and to assist them in preparing for future careers. In addition to offering courses in conjunction with Enterprises UP, the Unit also ensures contact between industry and students through specialised exhibitions, career fairs, career presentations and other forms of exposure to various industries.
The services offered to graduates by the Unit include assistance with developing CVs and writing cover/motivational letters, advice on career planning, preparation for psychometric assessment, assistance with job searches and job applications, preparation for interviews and work-readiness workshops.
In conjunction with Enterprises UP, the Unit also offers a work-readiness initiative, Ready for Work, which prepares graduates for the world of work by providing training in additional skills, including entrepreneurship.
'Our aim is to set our students apart from the rest when it comes to succeeding in the world of work, and we do this by providing them with additional skills over and above academic competence and work experience. I would like to encourage our students to equip themselves with the life-enhancing, essential and specialised skills that are required to successfully move from an academic setting to the work domain and will also improve their prospects for employment,' Liebenberg concluded.