Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
While the medical sector finds itself waging a relentless war against the pandemic, COVID-19 has jostled the economy into a tailspin, with millions now finding a place in the unemployment line.
According to the latest figures released by Statistics SA, the current national unemployment rate is currently 32.6%. But when looking at Newcastle and its surrounding areas, it appears there is more to the unemployment rate than meets the eye.
Mark Staples of The Recruitment Guy, who holds 23 years experience in the sector, states. “Regarding the local Newcastle region, it’s in my opinion that it is probably higher, but to secure the correct figure is a challenge in itself and the fact that this data is not freely available (that I am aware of) is a concern as it seems to not be a priority. (I stand to be corrected).” Looking beyond the obvious surrounding the pandemic impacting industries, Staples explains there are other facets to which he attributes the high level of unemployment—stating that high immigration levels are one of these factors. Skilled and experienced people leaving, with new inexperienced candidates coming in, who do not qualify in some instances, results in these positions remaining open.
In addition, Staples claims the level of unemployment apathy is also a principal contributing factor. “A lot of hot air being blown again (before elections and I remind you of the millions of jobs that were promised before the last elections still have not transpired).”
Then there is the volume of red tape restricting various industries moving forward. (Equity / BEE / Affirmative action, Unions etc). Staples emphasises that industries are not getting the best candidates available, which affects their bottom line, limiting growth and further employment opportunities. “We require a new all-inclusive system that caters for everyone,” he says.
Further stating, there is also a lack of self-motivation from the unemployed to increase their educational skills. “Everybody seems to have this sense of expectation that they are entitled to apply for “just-any” position because they are desperate for employment. This is frightening as there are many free online or state-sponsored training courses available. Never stop learning and improving.”
Moreover, candidates’ lack of professionalism and integrity adversely affects the employment rate and the probability of employment. According to the recruitment expert, “this is where several people apply for positions, don’t pitch up for scheduled interviews, try to arm-wrestle more money out of the company (which inflates the budget for open positions which is currently not affordable with all the downturn in the industry), and when it comes down to signing the employment offer, they decline because of numerous reasons. And at the end of the day, they (the employer) were aiming just to increase their earnings.”
And when taking a step back to the CV (Curriculum Vitae) or, better yet, the document your prospective employer will use to determine if you are a feasible candidate—Staples highlights that the CVs jobseekers are submitting are of inferior quality, are compiled using generic copy and paste from other sources and have a lack of credible information. “Basically, these CVs are not catching the eye of the employers. Faxed CVs are so 1988!”
Furthermore, he notes that with various industries downscaling their workforce, salary structures are revised, while open positions are engineered to seek dual skilled individuals. “Therefore, candidates who have been seeking a financial increase with new employment are finding the marketplace has backslidden with affordable packages available. Cost-saving is the buzzword now.”
Adding to this, numerous people complain that they are unemployed but have absolutely no desire to actually “go-to-work”. As Staples points out, “The SASA grant is easier to receive than actually getting out of bed and going to work every day. Laziness.” Therefore, Staples says it is essential for the unemployed to be self-motivated and stop relying on the local government to solve their problems. “I have witnessed people who are at rock bottom, unemployed, who never gave up, kept applying, knocking on doors and dropping off their cv’s who eventually have secured something.”
He also enthuses that one needs to have the right attitude, as this shows the prospective employer that you are employable and leaves a lasting introduction impression.
A fundamental part to remember is employment stability. Employers are looking for stable applicants who can show commitment to their employment, indicating they are in for the long haul with a company. Staples clarifies by explaining, “Switching jobs in short succession is a big NO-NO. Switching jobs every 6 months to a year is a big turn-off. It takes a great deal of time, money, and effort to train and get new employees up-to-speed, only to have them resign 6 months later is highly acceptable and disappointing.”
Looking at the current situation, The Recruitment Guy adds that he believes the municipality and local government are making an effort through their initiatives. However, he notes that their business model is not yielding dramatic results.
“South Africa needs a Minister of Unemployment (I would personally take on this role, but they won’t like my tough decisions). The entire model needs to be revised and real-time solutions provided. This employment pandemic can be cured but it needs stronger credible leadership, less red tape, more funding, and a brand-new plan that includes all of SA citizens. Imagine all the Covid money that disappeared, how that could have helped.” Further stating, how can we expect our local/national government to resolve this issue with all the political infighting and abuse of funds that we read about in the media. “Not enough people have their eye on the ball, and this is why it’s continuously being dropped at the expense of the unemployed. It appears to be a situation where it’s every person for themselves and with the continually changing of the guard (decision-makers) at various levels, it almost feels like it’s designed so that no one is taking responsibility,” Staples remarks.
Despite being in the midst of a haemorrhaging economy, he has valuable advice to assist job seekers with their current way of thinking.
- Present professional/quality/detailed CV’s – as it is your “passport” to the job market.
- Upgrade your skills and experience. (Approach a company and offer to work for free /shadow/to obtain experience).
- Leave your Political agendas at home.
- Better communication and less striking or “down tools”. This situation chases foreign investment to more stable economies.
- Treat yourself and everybody with respect.
- Network through your family and community.
- Exert more pressure on the people who have made promises and have never delivered.
- Upgrade to a smartphone, increase your availability and embrace the technological changes and opportunities available on the net.
- Get up every day, with the intention to make your job “to find a job”. Never ever give up.
- Join and upload your cv to the numerous online job portals available across SA. Ensure your upload a quality CV to be considered with a professional business photo.
- Make a list of your strengths/skills and then target those companies by submitting your cv that reflects the skills you have and what they require.
- Ensure the contact details are correct on your CV. (You will not believe how many people do not change the details on their cv when they relocate, change cell numbers, or actually, just forget to add their details to their cv).
- Have a realistic salary expectation. Relocating from one region to another doesn’t mean you will get JHB salaries in NN. Numerous positions’ salaries are regional/market-related.
- Become self-employed. Chase your dreams, bake, cook, drive a taxi/delivery vehicle/freelance/become a waiter/do whatever you can to keep an income flowing in. half a loaf of bread is better than no loaf!
As The Recruitment Guy, Mark Staples offers valuable insight and advice; what are your thoughts?
Share your views in the comment section below.
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