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EDUCATION: No Matric But Not Without Hope: SA Adults Turn to Distance to Boost Career Prospects


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NOT HAVING a Matric can be a tremendous hurdle, but adults finding themselves in this position should not think all their options are ruled out forever and that study is an impossibility, an expert says.

“Of course having a Matric certificate is always preferable, but the reality is that thousands upon thousands of South Africans actually never achieved this. These people should know that there are options out there for them,” says Zabo Mhleli, a senior Student Advisor at Oxbridge Academy, which serves more than 20 000 South African distance learning students every year.

He says that at Oxbridge Academy, roughly 50% of students are currently pursuing studies that don’t require Matric. These students are mostly 29 to 34 years old and already working. The aim of their studies is to ensure that they become more employable, that they gain the relevant skills and theoretical knowledge they require in their fields, and also that they improve their ability to move up the career ladder.

Many students start their studies without having passed Grade 12, and some leave with a National Diploma, he says.

“Generally, the prospects of landing a job without Matric are pretty slim. However, National Certificates are recognised in the workplace, and showing that you worked your way through N4 – N6 will definitely make you more employable than just having a Matric.

“The moment you pass N4 level, your qualification is comparable to that of someone who finished Matric, so the ideal place for someone without a Matric is to go all the way up to Diploma level, and that is certainly possible, although few are aware of this fact,” says Mhleli.

He says some of the most popular fields - which don’t require a Matric pass for entry - include:
Project Management
This equips students with fundamental business skills, and introduces them to the administration and management skills essential for project management.

Health and Safety
Occupational health and safety professionals are in high demand, and this field covers a range of practical knowledge and skills that enable students to identify and contain risk factors in the work environment.

Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Students learn about the fundamentals of logistics and supply chain management, and are equipped with the skills required in sales and procurement.

Contact Centre Operations
Students are introduced to the fundamental principles of contact centre operations, and equipped with the basic skills required to work in a contact centre environment.

Introductory N4
These courses are also called bridging courses, as they give access to N4 National Qualifications. Students who haven’t completed Matric do the Intro N4 courses, and once they pass the examinations, they cross over to the N4 courses. Once they have passed N4, they can progress to N5 and N6, after which they can apply to the Department of Higher Education and Training for a National Diploma, provided that they have gained 18 months of relevant practical experience.

“We will always advise school-age learners to finish school and not to view this option as an alternative to finishing Matric. However, for those who never had the opportunity to complete school, or who met with little success in the past but who feel confident they are now in the right place to tackle studies with more success, studying as an adult should not be viewed as an impossibility due to the lack of a Matric certificate,” Mhleli says.

“It is important for them to know that they do have more options than remaining in entry-level, minimum-wage and unskilled employment for the rest of their lives.”

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