Considering the high unemployment rate, are Universities of Technology adequately equipping their graduates with skills that will help them secure employment in the now extremely competitive market? Are we marketable?
B-tech graduates are trained to be technicians, they receive minimal theory compared to BSc graduates whose qualifications are theory and design based with minimal application or practice.
A BSc degree is more comprehensive, broader and harder than a B-tech. There are a lot more modules to complete including mathematics and statistics which are not offered in B-tech (TUT). It also costs way more than a B-tech and graduates who obtain BSc’s have better employment prospects and are the highest paid. Basically, a BSc graduate can do everything that a B-tech graduate can and more. In my quest to find employment I have come across adverts that explicitly stated that only candidates with BSc degrees should apply. So why then are they both NQF level 7 qualifications? surely a BSc is superior.
The difference between the two degrees is not clearly stated and communicated to prospective students. We are often made to believe that they are the same given the NQF level, if they are indeed the same then why are there more unemployed B-tech graduates than BSc graduates.
The #feesmustfall movement has highlighted the extremely high cost of education in South Africa. It is not only University fees that are high but also high school, primary school and even Pre-school fees are too high. The cost of quality education in South Africa is too high, therefore a high number of disadvantaged youth end up at the Universities of Technology because the fees are affordable. They will then struggle to obtain employment and be paid less than their counterparts who attended model C schools and traditional Universities. This creates a cycle of unsustainable social development where the poor remain poorer and the rich become richer. There is a vast number of South Africans who still live in poverty and our education systems are not designed to support them.
Many will say that one does not have to attend a University in order to be successful and that it is a choice, that is true and it should be so. However, our economic climate does not make it easy for those without qualifications to obtain sustainable employment. It has become tough for those with qualifications to get jobs so those without barely stand a chance. Some will also say that we need artisans, that is also true, but can one make a living and support their family on an artisans salary, can they make sure that their kids attend quality schools and be in a position to someday choose a career path without having to think about finances.
I think it is clear that a B-tech cannot put one in the same position as a BSc. If employers prefer BSc graduates, then don’t prospective students have a right to know so that they can make an informed decision. Should the South African Qualifications Authority be blamed for their classification or should Universities of Technology simply improve the quality of the qualifications?