I dropped out of school, now what?

Not having a matric certificate can cut young people off from many of life’s chances, including finding employment.

Not having a matric certificate can cut young people off from many of life’s chances, including finding employment[1]https://businesstech.co.za/news/business/495113/the-chances-of-employment-in-south-africa-based-on-your-level-of-education/. In South Africa, 55% of young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) do not have a matric certificate, which adds to their difficulty in finding their first decent job[2]https://www.saldru.uct.ac.za/wp-content/uploads/BPS_summary_report_14_05_2020-for-web.pdf). More than 3 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 fall into this category.

So, what can you do if you find yourself without a matric certificate and struggling to find employment? We looked at three scenarios and potential pathways that a young person in such a position could consider.

Ntando was able to improve his Physics marks through the Second Chance Matric Programme. This has allowed him to apply to the University of the Western Cape and a few other colleges.

Scenario #1: You wrote your matric exams but did not pass

You have the option of re-writing your matric exams. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has a Second Chance Matric Programme for learners who failed subjects in their matric year and want another chance to improve their marks and graduate with a National Senior Certificate (NSC). Find out more about how to register here.

Scenario #2: You are older than 21 and did not write your matric exams

The Second Chance Matric Programme also caters to young people who exited the schooling system before matric, who are eligible for the Senior Certificate (SC). The SC is an equivalent qualification to the NSC. The difference is that the NSC is based on a combination of school-based assessments and examinations, whereas the SC is based on examination marks only.

If you are 21 years or older and you were able to complete Grade 9 before leaving school, you can register with the Department of Basic Education to write the SC exams.

If you did not complete Grade 9 before leaving school you can still apply for the SC, sometimes referred to as the Amended Senior Certificate (ASC), at an Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) centre. In most cases, you will be required to take ABET classes to write the Grade 9 exams before studying further for your matric.

Studying for your exams

If you are going to go through the effort of writing your matric exams, you would want to get the best results possible. To do so, you will need to study ahead of the time and make use of the resources available to you. If you are looking for free educational websites with great material to help you prepare, as well as some useful study tips click here.

Scenario #3: You want to learn a technical skill but don’t necessarily want to do your matric

You can get your National Certificate (Vocational) – NC(V) – through a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college or a Further Education and Training (FET) college. The NC(V) is an alternative to grades 10-12. You do need to have completed Grade 9 to apply. These qualifications are designed to offer workplace-based skills in a variety of job sectors, for example motor mechanics, electrical work and the hospitality industry. This increases your employability, allowing you to develop your skills in your desired career.

Another option is to apply for a short skills training course. For example, WeThinkCode is a programme designed to prepare young coders to enter the marketplace ready for work. For many of these programmes you don’t even require a Grade 9 certificate.

Entering the job market

When it comes to job hunting it is important to have a CV that stands out. One way to bolster your CV is through free online courses. It is also important to add your strengths and interests to your CV. Job Starter’s new platform is designed to help you do just this.

Remember, the job market is tough and it’s important to show tenacity and resilience. Improving your skills and making use of educational opportunities available to you will help in the long term. It is important too that you prepare well for interviews and send out a number of applications. Further, use rejections as a learning opportunity by asking hiring managers what you can improve on.

Looking for more information? You can download this comprehensive ‘pathways from school to work’ map created by DGMT. You can also download this pamphlet by Youth Capital that offers solutions to some of the roadblocks young people experience on their road to employment.