Is it true? Are graduates of the Western Cape department of agriculture’s Elsenburg Agriculture Training Institute (EATI) more employable and less likely to be jobless?
According to a recent employability evaluation of graduates, conducted by the institute, yes.
The proof is in the pudding
The evaluation revealed that 68.1% of the institution’s youth graduates are more likely to be employed. This is 26.4% higher than their counterparts surveyed in StatSA’s Quarterly Labour Force Statistics.
At the time of the evaluation, which took place between January and March 2023, 54% of graduates were employed.
In the six months after graduating, 42% of surveyed graduates found employment, 18% were engaged in a leadership or internship, and 2% were self-employed, while the unemployment rate was 21%.
Commenting on the evaluation, the Western Cape minister of agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, said the development of young people and the workforce is at the core of the Western Cape government’s new economic strategy, Growth for Jobs.
“[Our] graduates want to be economically active. So, I am pleased that an EATI qualification is contributing to improved access to economic opportunities and employability,” he said
Quality of education a problem
The jobless rate of agricultural graduates has concerned industry players for years. Many blame the quality of education offered at state-owned agricultural colleges.
Furthermore, college neglect has also raised several questions and red flags. The Potchefstroom College of Agriculture has particularly come under fire for alleged college neglect.
The unhealthy state of the cattle found on the college grounds has sparked concern over the quality of tertiary agricultural training that students receive at the institution.
The president of the South African Agricultural Graduates Organisation (SAAGA), Malose Mokgotho, lays the blame on mismanagement and points the finger at government leaders who are not being held accountable. Agricultural students are being failed, he said in a previous interview.
“The facilities are not stable and conducive [to learning] for the students. The government is denying the students the opportunity to [receive proper education].”
How to improve the employment rate
The evaluation report also highlights that employed graduates confirmed the value and relevance of their studies for their work. The report also makes recommendations that could support the impact of EATI: These include:
- Ensure that all programmes undergo regularly scheduled reviews to maintain relevance and effectiveness, include input from industry stakeholders, and consider graduate feedback and employability.
- Strengthen partnerships to provide students with practical experience and consider offering work experience and internships as part of all AET programmes.
- Establish a standardised approach to engaging with the industry.
- Expand collaboration with industry to design and offer short courses focused on emerging developments and trends, such as drone technology and climate change.
- Develop structured recruitment initiatives specifically targeted at individuals from previously disadvantaged and non-traditional agricultural backgrounds to increase their participation.
- Provide structured career guidance to students during their studies. Consider implementing a formal programme that assists in exploring career options, particularly emerging job opportunities within the agricultural sector.
- Consider establishing an alumni association to foster networking and ongoing support among graduates.
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