Radio Talk Show on SAFM – Why are black graduates unemployed?


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This topic contains 26 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Skills Universe 2 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #3239

    sylvia hammond
    Keymaster

    This morning Gill Connellan participated in a discussion on SAFM with Sandile Zungu of the Black Business Council, following the latest report on the lack of progress by black youth compared to all other groups on education levels, skills, and employment.

    The many callers commented upon reasons ranging from the effect of white management racism, the size of school classes and lack of teacher training, and Sandile referred to a “commitment deficit” from all parties.

    One of the issues raised was unemployed graduates – Gill stated that many human resource professionals would just ignore CVs submitted by graduates of the previous “homeland” universities – compared to graduates from the traditional UCT, Wits, Stellenbosch and Pretoria.  

    Sandile disagreed and stated that he was aware of black graduates of Wits and UCT who have been unemployed 6 months after graduation – although their white counterparts have employment.

    Is this a fair point?  Are the CVs of graduates of universities such as Fort Hare discarded?  

    If this is true, what is it that employers find lacking in black graduates?

    What are the factors that hamper their employment.

    I apologise for all this racist classification and terminology, which has no biological reality and which I usually try to avoid.  Unfortunately this is the terminology of the report and the discussion.

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  • #3258

    Gill Connellan
    Participant

    I am so glad you have opened this discussion and I sincerely wish that we receive comments from a wide audience to test this statement.

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  • #3257

    I thought about this for some time and then remembered the late professor Mehl’s comment to me one day “we should be the most crime free and religious country in the world because of the number of graduates that graduate in criminology and theology” Looking back on his words, I don’t think that was exactly what he meant but wonder whether we are failing to encourage our children to study fields that are in demand within the business and industrial world. Are we turning out too many graduates in the arts and should our education system not concentrate on the Sciences such as engineering, manufacturing, financial, mathematical. I do not claim by any stretch of imagination to be an expert just pondering on the words of a man who held education very dear to his heart

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  • #3256

    Janelle Gravett
    Participant

    Hi Val and Gill – I agree with your comments Val.  one of the biggest problem we have with graduates is that they are not qualified in the fields that are in demand in business and industry.  added to this is the problem that, particularly in the engineering fields, the learner drop out rate in first year is so high, that the numbers that actually do graduate are very small.  I have experienced this in a number of engineering and manufacturing companies that I have worked with and have also run bursary schemes with.  the bigger engineering companies tend to give bursaries more freely than the smaller ones as they have a bigger fund to draw from, however, very few will take on students in first year.  most bursary students are from second and third years of study.  the poor standard of maths and science in the schooling system then contributes to the higher education and graduate pool whereby the majority of students take the “easy” subjects/qualifications and end up being “unemployable” on graduation as this is not what the business or industry sectors require!  I believe our problem starts in basic education!  Just my opinion and two pennies worth!

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  • #3255

    Des Squire
    Participant

    I must admit I cannot comment on what CV’s are discarded or why for that matter. Just a general comment however. In my personal opinion, many of the school leavers who qualify to attend university do so out of a sense of “a degree is a nice to have”. They attend university without thinking in terms of a career path and following graduation expect to be placed in a high level position because of the degree. In some instances the problem is one of attitude and expectation and HR practitioners see through this quite quickly and reject the applicant accordingly.

    The lack of progress by many graduates – irrespective of race or colour – stems from a failure to embark on a specific career path. They flounder in the dark and when questioned related to career objectives and chosen career path they cannot respond in a convincing manner as this is something that has not been thought through. There is a need for a change in attitude and a need to change thinking in terms of why a university degree is important and how a specific degree will assist in terms of a specific career path.

    The failure in this area can be seen if and when the very apparent situation of “square pegs in round holes” is addressed. People are being employed in order to comply with legislations resulting in placements of the sake of reaching quotas and so on.       

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  • #3254

    Janelle Gravett
    Participant

    Very good points Des and I agree with you too!  I am not sure what the career guidance at high schools in the country is like, but from what we are seeing with the graduates and chosen qualifications of study at universities, it would appear very little!  Perhaps this is another area that needs to be highlighted and have more emphasis placed on as it will guide learners better in terms of what to study and what career to choose.

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  • #3253

    Skills Universe
    Keymaster

    I wonder whether we are asking the right questions.  Does the report place unemployed black graduates in context?  For example, how many graduates are currently unemployed and what is the racial distribution?  Can we then say that relatively more or less get employed in any given race?  I realise that this must sound like denial, but enquiry must begin with statistics before it can examine examples.  What does the recruitment and selection fraternity have to say?

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  • #19364

    Skills Universe
    Keymaster

    I wonder whether we are asking the right questions.  Does the report place unemployed black graduates in context?  For example, how many graduates are currently unemployed and what is the racial distribution?  Can we then say that relatively more or less get employed in any given race?  I realise that this must sound like denial, but enquiry must begin with statistics before it can examine examples.  What does the recruitment and selection fraternity have to say?

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  • #31798

    Skills Universe
    Keymaster

    I wonder whether we are asking the right questions.  Does the report place unemployed black graduates in context?  For example, how many graduates are currently unemployed and what is the racial distribution?  Can we then say that relatively more or less get employed in any given race?  I realise that this must sound like denial, but enquiry must begin with statistics before it can examine examples.  What does the recruitment and selection fraternity have to say?

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  • #42998

    Skills Universe
    Keymaster

    I wonder whether we are asking the right questions.  Does the report place unemployed black graduates in context?  For example, how many graduates are currently unemployed and what is the racial distribution?  Can we then say that relatively more or less get employed in any given race?  I realise that this must sound like denial, but enquiry must begin with statistics before it can examine examples.  What does the recruitment and selection fraternity have to say?

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  • #44040

    Skills Universe
    Keymaster

    I wonder whether we are asking the right questions.  Does the report place unemployed black graduates in context?  For example, how many graduates are currently unemployed and what is the racial distribution?  Can we then say that relatively more or less get employed in any given race?  I realise that this must sound like denial, but enquiry must begin with statistics before it can examine examples.  What does the recruitment and selection fraternity have to say?

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  • #3252

    Skills Universe
    Keymaster

    Hi all,

    Have to agree with Des on this issue….Employment Equity is controlling factor in our industry today,  most people don’t know what they wish for their future (forgive me in I generalising).  However,  I know of many black graduates that have gone out there and used their degrees,  but, in my humble opinion, this whole e.e. “thing” is causing more problems within companies and many of my immediate clients have had it!  fines….fines…..lets close up and retire!  I am interested for all humble opinions.

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  • #19363

    Skills Universe
    Keymaster

    Hi all,

    Have to agree with Des on this issue….Employment Equity is controlling factor in our industry today,  most people don’t know what they wish for their future (forgive me in I generalising).  However,  I know of many black graduates that have gone out there and used their degrees,  but, in my humble opinion, this whole e.e. “thing” is causing more problems within companies and many of my immediate clients have had it!  fines….fines…..lets close up and retire!  I am interested for all humble opinions.

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  • #31797

    Skills Universe
    Keymaster

    Hi all,

    Have to agree with Des on this issue….Employment Equity is controlling factor in our industry today,  most people don’t know what they wish for their future (forgive me in I generalising).  However,  I know of many black graduates that have gone out there and used their degrees,  but, in my humble opinion, this whole e.e. “thing” is causing more problems within companies and many of my immediate clients have had it!  fines….fines…..lets close up and retire!  I am interested for all humble opinions.

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  • #42997

    Skills Universe
    Keymaster

    Hi all,

    Have to agree with Des on this issue….Employment Equity is controlling factor in our industry today,  most people don’t know what they wish for their future (forgive me in I generalising).  However,  I know of many black graduates that have gone out there and used their degrees,  but, in my humble opinion, this whole e.e. “thing” is causing more problems within companies and many of my immediate clients have had it!  fines….fines…..lets close up and retire!  I am interested for all humble opinions.

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  • #44039

    Skills Universe
    Keymaster

    Hi all,

    Have to agree with Des on this issue….Employment Equity is controlling factor in our industry today,  most people don’t know what they wish for their future (forgive me in I generalising).  However,  I know of many black graduates that have gone out there and used their degrees,  but, in my humble opinion, this whole e.e. “thing” is causing more problems within companies and many of my immediate clients have had it!  fines….fines…..lets close up and retire!  I am interested for all humble opinions.

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  • #3251

    Gill Connellan
    Participant

    The comments coming through are all valuable and to the point,  However, I think the observation that Julianne has made is right on the mark.  It was posed as a question to me on the talk show and it would be very useful to establish whether any studies have been completed to give us better evidence. It is most useful though, to use forums such as this to elicit comments and observations. Link to the full podcast – http://iono.fm/e/101519 

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  • #3250

    sylvia hammond
    Keymaster

    Thanks for that Gill – I thought you did extremely well in a very challenging environment, with phones and call-ins it’s very difficult to get your points across.  It was interesting that Sandile Zungu agreed with you on a number of the points made.  There were a number of other issues raised, that I will pick out for separate discussions. 

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  • #3249

    Some basic guidelines for entry level applications from a recruitment consultant perspective:

    1. Must have a specialisation to enter the labour market – you must be able to DO something – reconcile a cash book, sell on the phone, create an excel spreadsheet, make a drawing, design a logo, write a letter on Word, answer e-mail, research on the internet, use a tool or a software …..….

    2. Send your CV to jobs that you have read, understood and have reason to believe that you can do – don’t spray and pray your CV – this is not an effective strategy

    3. Make sure your command of English is good enough to converse and write correctly with no spelling or grammatical errors

    4. Have some experience in part time/casual work, free-lance work, volunteer work …… demonstrate that you can DO something on a sustainable basis ….

    These points apply to ALL entrants … black, white, graduates and non-graduates alike …. We receive hundreds of CVs that are sent to every position we advertise clearly indicating that most young people do not even read the ad…. We live in highly competitive global labour market … we need young people to be street smart not just book smart before we will even call them in for an interview….

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  • #3248

    Johan Venter
    Participant

    Employers are not driven by race based ideologies; similarly managers that have to achieve (often conflicting) tough objectives have to select and employ the best person for the job. Unfortunately university degrees are rarely the sum total of a person’s capabilities. (Even if it is a degree in Engineering.) When having to choose between two freshly minted graduate mechanical engineers, managers will find the ones that come from a background where the candidate had lots of opportunity to informally practice mechanical engineering more employable. (Installing the irrigation on dad’s farm; keeping the tractor repaired with limited resources; etc. etc. – ).

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  • #3247

    South Africans of all races need to change their thought processes with regards to academic versus skills-based education. Our society, both past and present puts too much emphasis and status upon the “professions” which require a university degree. Many young people are shocked to learn that earning a living involves being able to” produce” or “do ” what modern society requires e.g. where would we be without electricians, plumbers and builders? Hence, Francis is correct when it comes to the”employability” of our newly “qualified” youth. Can status or snob values be at play when crucial decisions are made by school-leavers and their parents?

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  • #3246

    Very interesting discussion. I align myself with the sentiment that the problem begins early on in the system of education. Career guidance is not only little but almost non-existent. Educators are also under pressure to teach other than attend to issues of careers for learners. While statistics have a major role to play in determining the validity of the racial implications of the problem in hand, it is also common cause that our population will ever remain skewed with Blacks being in the majority in many situations just as it is in general terms.

    Back to the issue. It has ever irked me to ever be fighting with educators on the one hand and learners on the other, in a rather limited scale though. Educators, I believe in a quest to improve results and ensure that there are less learners failing in their science subjects, push learners to take up drama and the arts type subjects when the time comes for making decisions on subject streams to be taken through to G12. While I am aware that if wishes were horses beggars, including myself, would ride, I have found this tendency displeasing and not helpful in the long run for what we want to achieve as a nation.

    I fortunately prevailed last two or so years ago over a learner relative of mine to ensure that she sticks to the accounting/science subjects stream. After making it through a Diploma in G12 last year, part of her complaint was that she would have attained a much better result than the Diploma if I had not influenced her to remain in the science/accounting stream. On enquiry as to the reason for her sentiments she cited some of her school mates in the general stream who had passed matric well. Here we go. My child’s interest is in passing matric well, a good wish for every sober minded learner, but content of the certificate is not important in her observation. That also demonstrates a chronic lack of career guidance.

    Lastly, I dread attending high school evening functions because I want to avoid getting hurt by the fact that in every drama that is performed in that occasion, the cast will be composed of mainly black learners. Drama is good in itself. But this tendency of both learners and teachers looking for easy ways to pass matric returns to hurt us as a nation. Let us reinforce career guidance early in the system.

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  • #3245

    Pieter Staal
    Participant

    Reading many of the responses I am amused as the same questions raised and same comments about not reading adverts, not being appropriately qualified etc were bandied about in the late ’80’s. A senior manager complained about the ‘youngsters’ coming through universities not having a clue of how to do the job and expecting a top managerial job whereas he with his varsity qualification came through the ranks etc etc..
    People don’t read adverts – they see a word, a salary and think “I can do that” and apply with an misspelt CV and hope to make it through the door.
    No matter what the question – there is little career guidance at schools. The interns/job shadowers I have had the pleasure of chatting to about 90% of them have no clue as to what awaits them…. pity.

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  • #3244

    Gill Connellan
    Participant

    Bongani has made some key points in this discussion that relate to appropriate career advice and also the manipulating of subject choice and marking methods to ensure that matric results are ensured.   Most of our discussion has centred around the various aspects of education and discrimination which appear to be some of the primary causal factors in the appalling state of affairs that has seen black youth show virtually NO progress in skills development over the past 20 years!  

    Here is a tiny extract from the report that has precipitated this discussion – 

    Skilled employment among:

    –    whites reached 61.5 percent in 2014, from 42 percent in 1994;

    –    indians and Asians 50.7 percent from 26 percent in 1994;

    –    coloureds 22.5 percent from 12 percent in 1994; and

    blacks 17.9 percent from 15 percent.

    We have, however not discussed the dismal social and economic circumstances that the majority of our young black people find themselves in and which may be an even greater obstacle for them.  I have worked in both community and corporate environments for the past 11 years and I can say with a great deal of certainty that the corporate business world has no idea of the vast chasm that exists between township and community life, and suburbia.    Our young people, predominantly black who are living in these environments endure:

    – parentless and headless households that consist of multiple youths (usually males who have often been sent from the Eastern Cape to have access to better opportunities.  They have no food or other resources and are forced to drop out of school to try for temporary work to survive.

    -large households where one or more people have AIDS or TB.  The young people are often dispatched to go with these family members to doctors or clinics to obtain medications.  Young people living in extended households also end up doing the baby sitting for youngsters and the caring of the elderly or infirm while the adults either go to work or spend their time in other pursuits.

    – large households where young people (often females) are constantly exposed to abuse and violence because they are staying with extended families and they are resented if they cannot contribute to the household costs, even when they are grossly underage.

    School or college is regarded as a secondary priority in all these circumstances.  

    Other challenges include:

    – young females fall pregnant and have babies to obtain social grants as a means of income

    – young people fall prey to gangsterism, drug abuse and alcoholism.  I have personally experienced a number of instances where parents have removed their children from the local school because of the bad influences within the school boundaries!

    What I have described above are just some of the challenges that affect our disadvantaged youth even before we begin to address the education and resulting unemployment.

    Young people are not monitored properly if they don’t attend classes and many of our young people attend school on a sporadic basis.    They then attempt to apply for college or work, but they have no idea about the attitude that is required to hold a job or to complete studies.  These include time-keeping, dress code, general demeanor, commitment and a whole string of other basic life skills that many of us from a more privileged background take for absolute granted.    

    So by the time the young people from these unfortunate circumstances actually enter school they are already at a huge disadvantage and when the teaching and schooling environment is really bad on top of that, we have no real chance of improving their lot.

    I can go on an on about the extremely challenging environment that so many thousands and thousands of our young people are experiencing but the point of my comment here is the acknowledgement that for most of these young people, even with an education, they often just don’t have the life skills and basic resources that employers expect.

    This is one area where I believe business can make a much greater effort to be involved in the development of a decent future for our young people.

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  • #3243

    The question of whether unemployed graduates are restricted to “black” graduates only is a statistical question and a proper study should be done to explore the statement . This study should also look at the amount of graduates employed in their actual field of study.

    Career guidance or the lack thereof pre-dates 1994. I am sure we can all recall “homework” period. When careers was discussed it was so superficial that it could honestly not be called guidance. I do believe that teachers/schools are sometimes providing advise to learners that would suite the objective of the school. Please don’t tarnish the school’s perfect reputation or please can we just try to raise our pass rate this year. Learners are routed into subjects where they will achieve good marks but would in the end not mean much for their future and can even prevent a capable student from gaining university access.  

    No guidance is given at school or university on appropriate office behavior or what to expect once released into the working world. Many students do not have relatives working in the corporate environment and have no frame of reference to tie a possible career to. Also dare I ask if the lack of direction might have to do with teachers and HET educators having a mainly academic background with a large percentage who have never wandered outside of their academic harbors. Unfortunately corporate is resisting the appointment of M or Ph D graduates. Over qualified and under experienced. Not sure what corporate is trying to tell prospective employees and students ? 

    Graduates want to walk into highly paid permanent positions preferably management with loads of benefits. Only to be disillusioned when repeatedly walking into a brick wall. They are not interested in temporary positions and the majority will decline such an offer with contempt missing the opportunity to gain much needed experience.

    From a recruitment perspective I can honestly say that I have never disregard any CV based on the university a candidate is coming from. If shortlisted and the qualification is legitimately that of the applicant the process continues.

    As to Employment Equity being the driving force of appointment decisions I partially agree. In my opinion the B-BBEE scorecard requirements, with specific reference to training and employment equity, is driving decisions, every appointment decision outside of the designated groups reduce the business client base aka the ability to do business. The scorecard definitely advance/promote the appointment and training of “black” females and even better if they happen to be people with disabilities. Larger companies therefor tend to have large intakes of “black” female graduate interns of which about 10 – 20% being absorbed into the company after the 1 year internship. These intakes are normally candidates who have a clear idea of what they want to achieve and are aware of the internal and external possibilities. This obviously leaves a large portion of “black” male graduates stranded at the door.

    I do believe that learners and students are under a false impression as to the purpose /need for further education and obtaining a degree. Obtaining qualifications irrespective of the value it would add to their future career as they are completely oblivious to what is needed. Study into areas there is over supply of candidates or even worse where there is a huge mismatch between the individual and the area of study. Trade qualifications is neglected in favour of academic courses everyone wants to work in an office. Trade qualifications is frowned upon, considered low class, low earning potential career choices which would not bring them out of their current economic status. This approach is leading to over supply of office people with an under supply of people who can fix and build things. Due to the financial status of students they also apply for bursaries in fields they technically don’t belong.

    So after all that what could be considered to fix this unemployment and mismatched graduate situation.

    School

    Consideration should be given to leave teaching to the teachers and start a school program where there is a constant flow of professional people addressing groups of students on what it is they do, what a normal day looks like, the good the bad and the ugly of the position. More detailed information would make for better decision making from the learner side. Yes this will come with its own challenges.

    Start with compulsory job shadowing for all learners from at least grade 8. 2 x 1 week session per year in different positions. Attendance to be signed off by the employer.

    Career days should start focusing on what is considered scares and critical skills. Most of these positions are unknown to school leavers.

    Bigger emphasis should be given to entrepreneurship. This is the only part of the economy that can effectively create new jobs.

    University

    departmental open days should get industry experts in for the event to discuss positions available not only the subjects that is presented by the department. Lecturers are not always industry experts though they are subject experts.

    student support should have access to people working in the various fields who are willing to meet with students to discuss career opportunities and expectations in the working environment.

    Introduce a work readiness program for one semester in the 3rd year of studies.

    Consider extra credit for working during holidays in the students field of study or incorporate into practical mark.

    Business 

    Make it easy and possible for entrepreneurs and small business to employ graduates to gain work experience, many businesses wants to get involved but do not have access to the funds available to large organisations. These businesses employs a much bigger share of available employees than large organisations do. Maybe something for the DTI and DoL to consider in their future strategies.

    New/youth appointments age 18-26 needs regular career discussions, PDP and focused training. Many work entrants age 18-20 are breadwinners of child headed households supporting their siblings who are still at school. These employees often have the capacity to become so much more but circumstances necessitated them to enter employment.

    Should not promise internships to students when there is no work in the field available then have them do filing for the year. Or when there is no program in place.

     

    We can all agree that there are a large amount of graduates across the board who are currently unemployed. Whether these graduates are statistically mostly “black” in percentage – are open for investigation.

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  • #3242

    Gill Connellan
    Participant

    Great comments and suggestions.  Most relevant. Thanks

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  • #3241

    Steve Short
    Participant

    IMHO, a degree show’s that there is a demonstrated ability to learn in a given field – it does not show that you can be up and running when you start your first job.  Most new graduates who I worked with had to learn the tactical skills on the job… once they had that mastered, most were able to add new perspectives to the work.  Then there is the matter of choosing the right degree – discussed so I wont elaborate. 

    Here in Australia, I have a friend who is a STOREMAN… he has a degree in literature, but he soon found out that there were not too many openings for people with that degree.  Another friend has a son who graduated with a bsc… he couldn’t get a job so he did some research and opened his own business (portable toilets), which is flourishing.  My point is that graduates perpetuate a form of ‘academic snobbery’ by sitting back and waiting for a job to come to them or limit their options by only applying for certain jobs.  I would flip burgers at the Wimpy if I had to… it’s work and it keeps me off welfare benefits and provides another option until the right opportunity does arrive.

    I for one am tired of people playing the blame game… Unemployed graduates should make something like this their motto – ‘IF IT IS TO BE IT IS UP TO ME!’  Not too many jobs but there is plenty of work out there – Just saying…

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  • #3240

    Anonymous

    For employment to be created, a job needs to be created, for a job to be created there must be demand for that particular product or a service. Long gone is the times of job hunting and “expecting” employment even with a P.hd behind your name. If you want food on the table you need to do what it takes. CV’s, statistics, racial divide has no influence on what your are having for supper.

    If the study is anything to go by, South Africa’s white population may be extinct by the year 2161. Report by the South African Institute of Race Relations revealed that the country’s white population was declining by about 0.3% every five years. These figures are however extremely conservative in relation to figures for example by StatsSA.

    City Press extrapolated the figures and discovered that, if the current decline trends persisted, white South Africans would be extinct by the year 2161. The fact is that most white people still believe that having children outside of wedlock is a sin. Having children you cannot care for and provide an education for is just not the within most white realm of thinking. So many vindications of Black South Africans being born already with deficit due to the ‘Apartheid’ era (21 years down the line) renders me dumbfounded.

    I am sure the burden of education and employment is high on the birth contraception inventory when the need arises with religion comfortably lock away, until it is time to deliver the funds for education or finding a job and then all of the sudden white racism become extremely helpful again.

    But not to worry come 2061 I am sure the white folk currently at .3% in decline and our African folk making 79% of the population and steadily growing will still be on top of denunciation of the previous system.  and… yes still having more kids than what we can be provide for, will still remain a privilege of only the remainder of the population group at the said time. With reference to:

    http://www.citypress.co.za/news/south-africas-new-endangered-species-white-people-20120204/

    http://www.statssa.gov.za/publications/P0302/P03022013.pdf

    http://www.bdlive.co.za/economy/2012/10/30/census-sas-population-of-51.8m-is-still-young

    http://www.southafrica.info/about/people/population.htm

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One thought on “Radio Talk Show on SAFM – Why are black graduates unemployed?

  • Tass Schwab

    Sounds familiar, I worked with someone who tossed papers around and shouted and performed often. The day I resigned I actually said very loudly to this individual if he was done tossing his toys out the cot… I just about got a standing ovation from the floor… perhaps he will learn from this. Thankfully this has only been the case once in my life!!! Yes to being honest about the reasons you left your previous job, radical honesty can only get you more truth… and also means a better job fit perhaps!

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