Job or Startup: A Tough Choice For 2016 Class of Matriculants & Graduates

In the next few months matriculants and graduates will be in a frantic search for jobs. The sad reality is that very few will be absorbed in the world of work irrespective of how much one searches for a job or how much one is qualified. In any given year, there’s  only so much jobs available in an economy. In the South African context, there’s always a gap between available jobs and the number of people searching for jobs, there’s always more people searching for jobs and there’s always less job opportunities available. This will be the case again in 2017 for the 2016 class of  matriculants and graduates.

The good news is that if the door of jobs is closed on matriculants and graduates there’s an option to start a business. This is a tougher option for young people and it will be the only option for many young ones who cannot be absorbed by the economy. It is a tougher option partly because very few matriculants and graduates are prepared to start and run their own businesses. Schools and academic institutions are not designed to develop entrepreneurs. Although some institutions have tried to include entrepreneurship education in their curriculum this has been just a course or subject and not necessarily institutionalised. For matriculants and graduates to be prepared to start their own businesses when they can’t get a job  there will be a need for entrepreneurship to be an integral part of education institutions. As a start there are 3 elements that need to form part of an education institution and they include:

  1. Funding
  2. Access To Markets
  3. Mentorship


Currently, funding in education institutions is structured for “Study Fund Now and Pay later” by working for a company or paying when you work. This model of study funding is designed only for people to work instead of starting and running a business.

Academic institutions need to be structured in such a manner that they encourage entrepreneurship through funding learners to start businesses once they complete their studies. 


Getting funding for a business is critical however it is not enough to get your business going. Access to market opportunities is a very critical element for an entrepreneur. Currently education institutions organise Career Exhibitions to connect students with companies that are employing. Imagine if Design students were exposed to Business Exhibitions where a Design student is introduced to potential clients. This would change the economic prospects of a graduate after graduation. This is what institutions that embrace entrepreneurship would do to better prepare their students for the future.


Lastly, every education institution that provides entrepreneurship education tends to only offer such education through  business professors as opposed to entrepreneurs. Although business professors have a role to play in nurturing entrepreneurs it is important that experienced entrepreneurs form part of entrepreneurship curriculum delivery. Every entrepreneur  needs guidance from someone who has walked a similar road. This would go a long way in enabling young entrepreneur to avoid startup mistakes that many commit in the early days.

The #FeesMustFall movement has got people thinking about the need for change in the education sector. One such change should include the infusion of entrepreneurship in the academic curriculum. One can only hope that 2017 academic year will bring such changes.