Professional Affiliation Gives Job-Hunters the Edge

Joblessness amongst the youth is a national crisis: to resolve it will require government, labour and business to come up with some creative solutions. A fundamental rethink about the way the economy itself is structured might even be necessary.

At the same time, however, there is much that the youth itself can do, says the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA)-particularly those who have the privilege of tertiary education.

"Growing unemployment among graduates is very troubling. In 2000, the rate stood at 9.7 percent and its been rising ever since," says Navin Lalsab, Accreditation, Compliance and Development executive at SAIPA. "One of the challenges for graduates is obtaining the initial work experience that employers often want. In the current economic climate, companies are reducing training budgets, creating strong competition for learnerships and jobs."

Lalsab says that graduates need to take a hard look at the situation in their chosen profession and make some strategic choices that will make them more employable. "One of the sensible things a new graduate can do is join one of the professional bodies active in the sector in which he or she would like to build a career," Lalsab advises. "Membership of a professional body is a great way of differentiating yourself from people competing for the same job or learnership."

"The qualifying exams for a professional organisation very much reflect what the practising professional needs to know, and so complement the academic or theoretical training that the candidate received at university," Lalsab explains. "Membership also means you subscribe to the organisations code of professional conduct and are subject to its disciplinary procedures – something that tells a prospective employer a lot about who you are. Its a potent way of communicating not only that you are serious about your career and have job-ready skills, but that you are an honourable, ethical person."