We’ve entered an age of uncertainty, where markets are subject to rapid change and jobs are harder to come by. You need to be proactive about your career to weather the storm. Forget the narrative of “white monopoly capital” that’s currently doing the rounds – this is just political noise designed to distract us from the real issues facing South Africa, says political analyst Karima Brown.
We all benefit from a healthy and growing economy as this means businesses profit and grow. As these businesses grow, they employ more people to help them manage their growth. As more people earn salaries, they spend more on goods and services. This, in turn, allows more businesses to grow and this expands the jobs pool. It’s not hard to see the interconnectedness of it all, and how economic growth is a driver of job creation.
The bad news for the graduating class is that the economy is not growing – and that’s bad for jobs. Already, more than 7% of South African graduates are unemployed. And, given the on-going credit rating downgrades afflicting the country and the announcement earlier this year that we are in a technical recession, this figure is likely to grow. This means consumers will become increasingly cash strapped – so businesses won’t grow as much as they should, and they will employ fewer people. The bottom line is that it is likely to become more difficult to find a job.
More bad news is that any growth in employment is offset by the growing numbers of job seekers. In the first quarter of 2017, South Africa recorded the highest unemployment rate since 2003. The unemployment rate is particularly high among those with an education level lower than matric (33.1%), although even graduates don’t escape the dearth of jobs (the unemployment rate among graduates is at 7.3%). This means your hard-won degree is no guarantee of a job.
We are currently experiencing an uncertain economic climate locally, exacerbated by global uncertainties arising from Brexit, the election of Donald Trump as US president, growing populism and the nuclear threat emanating from North Korea. If nothing else, such uncertainty reinforces the importance of expecting the unexpected and ensuring you have an adjustable portfolio of skills, a strong professional reputation and a focused – but adjustable – career plan. A career plan is no different to a business plan in that it needs to be flexible enough to accommodate unexpected market changes and opportunities.