Universities urged to promote entrepreneurship | Fin24

Universities urged to promote entrepreneurship

May 24 2016 13:30

Cape Town – The 2016 PPS Student Confidence Index which surveyed over 1500 South African students revealed that they are least confident in exploring entrepreneurial opportunities (62%), or opening a private practice (62%) upon graduation, when compared to confidence in opportunities available to them in the formal sector (66%).

Motshabi Nomvethe, Technical Marketing Specialist at PPS, states that these results indicate that there is a need for tertiary institutions to actively promote entrepreneurship as an attractive and viable career opportunity among South Africa’s graduate students.

"It is however very positive to note that when asked whether students were confident that their degree sufficiently prepared them for their chosen profession, respondents revealed a confidence level of 84% - up from 76% recorded in 2015. The majority of students (60%) also indicated that it was more important for them to secure employment than to obtain a post-graduate degree," she says.

"For example, it might seem very simple for a young qualified medical or dental practitioner to open a private practice, but, in reality, the practice will not succeed if the young graduate is not equipped with the necessary entrepreneurial skills. It is vital that today’s youth get taught about business management practices as these skills will determine the success of opening up their own business or practice, and they will also create further employment by employing a support team in their venture," states Nomvethe.


Nomvethe says if students aren’t taught to become entrepreneurs consequences could be dire. "The unemployment numbers could go out of control as we already have high unemployment as a country. This means that we will have more people relying on the state. The impact of this is having less people paying tax to look after so many people. We already have so many people relying on the state and that's unsustainable. This will also drive many people to live above the poverty line. And we can't afford that".

"This also has huge economic consequences. There are many things that could go wrong, such as crime going up because more are hungry. When people are hungry they become desperate", Nomvethe says.

According to Nomvethe, it was clear from the focus groups that students are keen to secure employment once they have graduated, in order to gain work experience, as they realise that they could always continue to study on a part-time basis while they work.

The latest statistics show that "With an estimated 26,7% of South Africa’s population being unemployed, according to the latest Stats SA Labour Force Survey, it is vital that more young graduates turn to entrepreneurship in order to develop a successful business in their chosen field, should they be unable to find work after graduating".

"There is a definite need for South African tertiary institutions to increase their efforts to promote and foster entrepreneurial skills to empower graduates within professional occupations to open a private practice, consultation or business."

Employability vs job security

On possible reasons why students are more confident in employment opportunities in the formal sector than in the private and entrepreneurial sectors, Nomvethe says "it's more of legacy issues. We've always been told 'go to school and then look for a job'. We need to change this norm as it is no longer working, though it might have worked 20 years ago".

"Students need to move away from job security and make themselves employable. This needs to be taught early on, from primary school level. We also need to look at other career options such as artisans, plumbing where graduates can start their own businesses with the skills they've acquired. Look at social media, for example, about seven years ago it was non-existent as a career. We need to look at other alternatives."

"We need to encourage young people to move from job security, which means doing what everybody is doing and stay out trouble, but how to make 'myself employable. You need to ask yourself 'what skills do I carry, which are more sustainable?' Be willing to make a career change, there are many careers out there. Make that transition", Nomvethe concludes.

The survey was conducted among students in their fourth year or above, studying at a university or university of technology towards a profession-specific degree, such as engineering, medicine, law or accounting. Students answered questionnaires online, face-to-face on campus and via focus groups.

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