As hundreds of thousands of prospective students attempt to secure a place at public universities, with only a fraction of them likely to be accommodated due to limited capacity, education experts have highlighted the need for school-leavers to consider the many exciting careers that are accessible without degree study.

“Apart from the options available to these young people in the private higher education sector, there are also a myriad of options in the broader tertiary sector, where they can study towards workplace-geared qualifications that are in high demand,” says Elbie Liebenberg, Principal at Oxbridge Academy, a brand of ADvTECH, Africa’s largest private education provider.

She says there is still too much of a fixation on degree study as the only solid path towards a sustainable career when the reality is quite the opposite.

“Our economy has many sectors, and businesses across all these sectors are desperate for young people who are technically qualified and experienced to fill a host of positions. Many of these positions don’t require someone who studied towards a degree, but rather someone who studied towards a qualification that gave them the technical expertise and the workplace readiness to be an asset from day one,” she says.

Deon Roets, Academic Head at Capsicum Culinary School, agrees, saying that the tourism and hospitality industries, for instance, are growing apace, and constantly require new recruits.

He says there are a number of programmes that young people can pursue to access the industry, even if they do not hold a matric certificate yet.

“For instance, you only need to be 18 years old with Grade 10 to pursue an Occupational Certificate as Chef, or an International City and Guilds IVQ Level 2 in Patisserie,” he says.

He says while for some qualifications it is necessary to already have knowledge or the basic principles of kitchen work, Capsicum has built the necessary basics into their programmes to assist learners, which means that on completion of any of the programmes, learners can progress into employment.

“However it must be noted that while a Matric certificate isn’t always a necessity, this competitive industry requires a high level of commitment to excellence and training, particularly when culinary professionals intend to pursue high-level positions. It is therefore essential to ensure that those who are interested in pursuing such a career throw their all behind their professional development.”

In the broader hospitality industry, there are also numerous career paths open to young people who don’t hold a Bachelor’s pass, says Erika Theron, Academic Dean at The Private Hotel School.

She says Matriculants who are interested in the field have choices including a Diploma in Event Management and a Higher Certificate in Hospitality Management, among others.

“These qualifications are intensive, work-focused ones which cover a broad spectrum of competencies, including accounting, sales and marketing, leadership, and HR Management and Business Communications, and will set you up for a successful future in the industry,” she says.

There are also fantastic options outside of the hospitality and culinary industries, notes Liebenberg.

She says at Oxbridge Academy, which serves more than 20 000 distance learning students every year, many opt to work while studying, gaining the necessary qualifications as well as experience at the same time.

Fields of study include a wide spectrum of vocations, from Business Management, Educare, Financial Management, Human Resource Management, Marketing Management, and Tourism Management, to Public Management and Engineering courses.

Students can start their studies at Oxbridge Academy without having completed Matric, and can end their study journey at National Diploma level upon successful completion of work based integrated learning.

“It is imperative for those who didn’t pass Matric, those who didn’t achieve Bachelor’s passes, and those who weren’t able to secure a place for degree study to understand that getting a degree is only one of the paths to career success. Not only our country but countries across the world, are filled with opportunities for those who are qualified in specific vocations. And the opportunity for success really is out there for those who identify their passions and interests, and pursue them, even if their route doesn’t include degree study.”

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