More students confident about SA and want to rebuild economy

By Janice Roberts

PPS’s Student Confidence Index Report (SCI) 2018 reveals that students are optimistic about their future in South Africa with more believing they have a role to play in rebuilding the economy.

The PPS’s SCI Report 2018 saw the greatest sample size since 2015 and an increase of 69% on the 2017 sample size. Statistically, sample sizes need to be a minimum of 600 respondents, and this year 4160 respondents participated in the annual survey compared to 2443 last year.

“We believe professionals are important for their critical role in the working environment and for shaping the country’s future,” explains Motshabi Nomvethe, Technical Marketing Specialist at PPS. “As such, we have undertaken this survey – for the fourth consecutive year – to understand the important issues that our students are faced with.”

According to the PPS SCI, 61% of 4160 students in South Africa are confident they will secure employment after completing their university degrees. This is at a time of the rising unemployment rate in the country at 27.5%. However, another interesting Stats SA finding shows that the number of unemployed graduates declined from 6.9% in Q2 to 6.4% in Q3 2018, which gives reason for this optimism.

“While this is a significant finding in support of student confidence, we have also noted in this year’s survey that more students want to secure employment over continuing with their studies,” says Nomvethe.

The 2018 survey shows that securing a degree has dipped to under 30% for the first time in four years with 27% of students saying they would want to continue with their postgraduate studies while 40% indicated they prefer employment.

“This differs from previous years and could be the result of the tougher economy where the general sentiment amongst students is to enter the workforce sooner,” says Nomvethe.

This is as an overwhelming 85% of students are feeling the impact of prices soaring faster than the rate of inflation at 5.3% in the past 12 months. Compared to 2017, 77% of students expect prices in general to increase during the next year.

“Evidently, many are feeling the pinch on their already squeezed student budgets,” says Nomvethe.

However, the distressing economy is translating into an opportunity with more students believing they can use their skills to rebuild the country.

When asked if they have plans to relocate abroad for employment opportunities, 51% of the students – compared to 49% in 2017 – indicated they prefer to stay in the country to plough skills back into the local economy. This is similar to the findings from the previous years.

The survey found a considerable number of students only know and understand the basic financial matters such as budgeting, saving and insurance. A clear and consistent theme for the past four years of the survey is an indication that a staggering 94% of the students feel that financial literacy should be taught in school.

“From a PPS perspective, we value the insights the current sentiment from our students. While there are very real issues to still be dealt with, the optimism – from our country’s future professionals – gives reason to remain upbeat,” Nomvethe concludes.

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