Even as the Class of 2018 sat down for their terminal examinations, more than a few homegrown economists took to the airwaves to declare: graduates face a jobless future.

This is a most misleading soundbite about jobs for those who pass school or university.

The data is clear on a number of points. Most of our graduates find jobs. The more qualifications you have, the greater your income: those with a “matric certificate” (the National Senior Certificate, to be precise) earn more than those without one, those with a degree make more money than those with high school qualifications alone, and those with a second degree amass more income than those with the first degree only, and so on.

True, graduates do not always find the exact job for which they are qualified but that’s not a bad thing; getting your foot in the labour market is a starting point. A good first degree should, in any event, prepare you broadly for more than one occupation. But in most professions students with degrees get the job they are qualified for — teachers, nurses, lawyers, occupational therapists and doctors go straight into their desired occupation. So despite the vicissitudes of the global economy and the frightening fact that the SA economy is unlikely to grow beyond 2% in the immediate future, our graduates find jobs. It is not a good argument to point to your friend Lennie who has a degree but no job, or the taxi driver from the Democratic Republic of Congo who has a PhD. Individual cases cannot displace aggregate data for graduate employment. Furthermore, the reasons for such people not being employed at the level of their qualification, or at all, are often complex. Most (not all) gr...

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