A growing number of South African tertiary students are venturing into entrepreneurship, and many lack confidence in the future of South Africa due to the high levels of unemployment, corruption, and economic challenges induced by Covid-19.
This is according to the 2021 Student Confidence Index (SCI) survey conducted by the Professional Provident Society (PPS).
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The survey reveals that students are taking full advantage of the rise of the autonomous economy and the hustle and bustle, where people have multiple sources of income.
One in three students has a secondary hustle, and 31% say they intend to grow these once they are employed.
One participant said they have three side interests: selling complementary products like a ‘fitness bunny’, buying and selling clothes in their Pretoria-based community, and knitting and selling scarves.
Read: The rise of ‘side hustle’
More than a third (39%) of those surveyed say they plan to move to greener pastures outside the country. Some feel that broadening their horizons by working abroad will give them a better chance of succeeding in their careers.
“I am exposing myself to the work that I can do, not just in South Africa,” said one student during a focus group session.
“I’m trying not to limit myself so that if something happens here in South Africa, I can still be an asset elsewhere.”
PPS said students responded to the survey through online questionnaires and virtual focus groups.
The ‘list of concerns’
“Of those surveyed, 51% are more anxious compared to 2020 about the future impact of Covid-19. As for their feelings about the future of the country over the next five years, 39% are not positive while 41% say they are not sure, ”said Motshabi Nomvethe, PPS head of technical marketing.
“This is due to a confluence of problems such as comparatively low levels of education, crime and the lack of political will to solve them. For 88% of students, debilitating unemployment, and for 77% rampant corruption, are high on their list of concerns. ”
Consequently, 55% of those surveyed have some or total distrust in getting a job after obtaining their degree.
Read: Unemployment in South Africa is much worse than a bloodbath
Students also expressed challenges with e-learning, saying they struggled without contact during the Covid-19 hard lockdown.
“In general, the transition to e-learning was challenging for many students, especially those with historically challenged backgrounds. While 26% of students said mobile data was expensive, things are looking up and 48% say they prefer a hybrid learning approach, ”explains Nomvethe.
“For employers, the survey implies that human resource policies must be adjusted to allow for entrepreneurial graduates with global mobility. Additionally, future job seekers will be better prepared for the hybrid world of work, where some work online and others physically in the office. ”
The survey revealed that 30% of respondents who indicated they want to stay in South Africa said they want to help the economy grow as they believe the country requires critical skills.
The annual survey involved 3,304 undergraduate and graduate students from a public university or college of technology studying for a specific degree in a profession, such as engineering, medicine, law, or accounting.
Hear from Crue Invest’s Gareth Collier on this Money Savvy podcast (or read the transcript here):
Palesa Mofokeng is a Moneyweb intern.