Key Factors in the Employability of Education Graduates in an Open and Distance Institution

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

Beyond producing academically qualified graduates, higher education serves a broader purpose of producing well-rounded citizens and graduates. Meeting the demands of the labour market and contribution towards the socio-economic development of a country (Unisa, 2010; Chetty, 2012; Sawahel, 2014; Department of Education, 1995). As a comprehensive and mega open and distance learning institution in Africa, the University of South Africa (Unisa) enrols more than 350 000 students per year and in 2017 contributed more than 45 000 graduates. Nationally, Unisa delivers some 40% of all Education graduates, by far the most substantial contribution in the country. This paper is to presents the results of the Employer Survey conducted in 2017/18 among the employers of Unisa graduates from the College of Education. The survey examined the perceptions of employers about the skills and competence of Unisa Education graduates. This included basic skills and understanding; knowledge and intellectual ability; workplace skills and applied knowledge; and interactive and interpersonal skills. The conceptualisation of the study is based on Unisia’s Student Success and Support Framework, which argues that increased knowledge and consideration of students’ life circumstances are essential to inform efforts towards student success and satisfaction. The survey, therefore, included academic and non-academic variables, agency and fit within the broader student success and learner support framework. A census approach was employed, including all school authorities in both public and independent schools through an online survey instrument. In this study, employer refers to authorities governing at the school level, including school principals, deputy principals, curriculum specialists and heads of phases in rural, semi-rural and urban schools in South Africa. The analysis included descriptive statistics and thematic analysis of open-ended questions. The study illustrates the dichotomous relationship between hard skills and soft skills, the ranking of Unisa, and the implications of distance education on education graduates. // Paper ID 197

Employability,Higher Education
South Africa