Lower matriculation exam enrolment adds pressure to existing skills gap


Michelle Baron-Williamson | CEO | Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE) | mail me |

The 2018 matric results have been released, showing another successful year with an improved pass rate of 78.2%.

While this will lead to a number of now officially qualified matriculants looking to study further or start to enter the ‘working world’, what effect can the year-on-year decrease in matric enrolments pose to corporate South Africa (SA)?

Higher pass rate

The matric pass rate has shown an improvement over the last few years, synonymous with the hard work and dedication that goes into completing matric and for which students must be commended.

That said though, it must also be noted that the number of student enrolments to complete matric has decreased year-on-year since 2016. This is creating a slightly skewed perception, as each year there are in fact less students who successfully qualify with a matric pass than in the year before. And the reality is this has the potential to add pressure to the existing skills gaps the country is experiencing, with fewer skilled workers qualified for job opportunities, which could have further repercussions that corporates should recognise and be cognisant of.”

Lower enrolment

In 2017, it was reported that just over 798,000 learners had enrolled to write the 2017 matric examinations.

This represented a decrease of 37,838 students when compared to 2016 figures (which showed that 828,020 individuals registered for the exams). The reported 2018 figure represents a further drop in enrolment numbers, sitting at just over 796,000.

Despite an increased pass rate, lower enrolment figures results in a decrease of the overall number of students who obtain a suitable matric pass necessary to gain entry to university, or to apply for available workplace opportunities. The juxtaposition is that this in turn naturally widens the existing skills gap further and adds pressure to an increasing unemployment rate – which is already higher among the youth of the country.

Such a reality should point any company hiring in the direction towards undertaking the necessary process to verify and check qualifications submitted by prospective candidates seeking employment. A widening skills gap can result in corporates frantically seeking specific skills, yet fewer available qualified candidates to meet these requirements. This has the potential to lead to qualification misrepresentation or fraud, especially in a strained economy.

Misrepresentation and fraud

Our experience is that misrepresentation and fraud of qualifications remains high and that qualification(s) is the most likely aspect of a candidate’s CV or information to contain discrepancies, when compared to other background screening checks.

Of the more than 530,000 qualification checks we conducted during 2018, over 13% were found to be misrepresented in some way.

Our research notes that fake or misrepresented qualifications are a growing reality locally. And given challenges on finding the right skills and high unemployment rates that equally continue to influence the local employment market, we cannot stress enough the importance of adding qualification verification to stipulated HR processes.

While we commend those students, who have successfully completed matric and look forward to the value they will add to the workforce and the economy, it must be noted that a lower year-on-year enrolment has the potential to impact the available local workforce, posing certain risks that corporates must consider.



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