Graduate Employer Association’s Research Reveals UKZN Among the Best for Student Career Development
The South African Graduate Employers Association (SAGEA) recently conducted an employer benchmarking exercise and its research summary revealed that according to industry, UKZN is among the top 10 universities in South Africa when it comes to its career fairs and Career Development Services. SAGEA will announce the top three universities in these categories later this year.
The research summary comprised feedback from 79 employer organisations across a wide range of industries, many of whom engage with universities to hire graduates to join leadership development programmes, recruit graduates for entry-level positions, and hire graduates with in-demand or technical skills.
The College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES), which provides training and degrees in many of the areas in demand by employers surveyed by SAGEA, hosts annual career fairs for students in the College and beyond. At the events on the Pietermaritzburg, Westville and Howard College campuses, students meet with representatives of a variety of companies and organisations who are actively recruiting or have programmes targeted at developing graduates through bursaries, internships or leadership programmes. Students also gain insight into the careers their degrees could lead them into.
Career fairs are always well-attended by students and receive strong support from industry. Feedback from companies like the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), OVC Work Study Travel, Citrus Academy, and SAS Institute consistently notes the positive engagement companies receive from well-informed students, the helpfulness of student and staff assistants, and the well-organised and smooth running of the events.
Student attendees have noted the positive interaction with industry that has introduced them to alumni who have followed similar study and career trajectories, yielded interview and job application tips, and informed them of available opportunities and career paths.
In addition to hosting career fairs, the CAES also prioritises the provision of various forms of support for its students during their studies and as they begin to plan their steps into their chosen professions. The College’s Student Support Services not only provides counselling for personal and emotional challenges faced by students, but academic support in the form of study skills and time management workshops.
Students are able to book sessions with the CAES career development officer, and can access tools on the website to improve CV writing, boost interview and presentation skills, provide career assessment information, and view videos and posters about career choices.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CAES has tailored its support to students in their career development to allow for online engagement, offering online life skills workshops, online counselling sessions, online support groups and more.
Partnering with SAGEA, the CAES will also participate in the VirtualGradExpo since career fairs cannot take place physically this year. Scheduled over three days on 21 July, 29 July and 13 August with the participation of more than 20 tertiary institutions, the first of these days will focus on careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students can register for the event online.
Words: Christine Cuénod