The GO! & Express chatted to Dr. Siphokazi Koyana, who heads up the Future Me! programme that assists Grade 10 pupils with choosing the right subjects in line with their future career aspirations.
Why is it important to make the right subject choices in Grade 10?
Often pupils drop mathematics and take maths literacy and then find out after Grade 12 that it is required for courses they might want to pursue at the tertiary level. For instance, one needs to have mathematics to study to be a mechanic at a TVET College.
Many pupils would think, “Ah, I just want to be a mechanic. It can’t be that hard.” But now even mechanics need to know how to use computer programmes and digital diagnostic tools to fix engines and so on.
How does Future Me! assist pupils to make the right choices?
Future Me! takes Grade 9 pupils to various workplaces to learn about a wide range of careers and what personal attributes are required, as well as what subjects they need to study.
There is an increase in the number of unemployed graduates, so we encourage pupils to choose careers that are more in demand. We do research about which careers are more in demand in the workplace.
For instance, according to the Eastern Cape Economic Development Summit held at the end of last year, the province hopes to focus on infrastructure, agriculture, the ocean economy, building engineers, marine biologists, agricultural engineers, and so on.
These are some of the careers pupils could consider.
You might have to apply for a study loan from the banks if you are unable to afford your tertiary studies and you don’t qualify for NSFAS.
What are the top five things pupils should consider when choosing their subjects?
Interests and passions: It is important to link your interests and passions to careers that have high opportunities for jobs. Be realistic and focus on what you can have a viable career with and what can get you a job.
The point is to try to find a realistic balance between choosing a career you can live on and just following a passion that will not guarantee you a reasonable livelihood.
Personality: Find a career that suits your personality best to ensure your chances of succeeding are higher. If you are an extrovert, find careers that will have you interacting with people in a fast-paced environment, and if you are an introvert avoid those and find jobs where you will work alone most of the time.
Skills and qualifications: Figure out which subjects you are strongest in and which career paths you can follow with these subjects. Try to arrange a job-shadowing opportunity for a week or two to see if you would enjoy working in that environment.
Preference and lifestyle: Make sure you are okay with the working conditions of the career you choose. If the job will require traveling for extended periods of time, make sure it is something you are OK with. If the job requires manual labour, make sure you are well-prepared.
Salary: Find out what the average salary is in the career you choose to follow. This information is often available on Google or you can ask people who are already working in that field. Make sure the salary will be enough to sustain you and help you make your dreams come true.
How can pupils avoid choosing the wrong subjects?
To avoid falling into this trap, do your research. That might mean job-shadowing first for a while to see if you really like the new option you’re considering. There are also a lot of lessons on YouTube to help you understand concepts and subjects you might find challenging at first. Thanks to the internet, resources are now available at your fingertips. You can teach yourself almost anything online.