How to Help Your Child Choose a Career that has High Employment Chances in South Africa

How to Help Your Child Choose a Career that has High Employment Chances in South Africa?

Title: Guiding Your Child Towards a High-Demand Career in South Africa

Deciding on a career is one of the most critical decisions one makes in life. This choice becomes even more significant in a country like South Africa, where the unemployment rate is high, and the job market is competitive. As a parent, you play an essential role in helping your child make this life-defining choice. This article will guide you on how to help your child select a career with high employment prospects in South Africa.

How to Help Your Child Choose a Career that has High Employment Chances in South Africa

To help your child choose a career with high employment chances in South Africa, firstly, familiarise yourself with the country’s job market and identify growing sectors such as technology, healthcare, and renewable energy. Secondly, identify your child’s interests and skills, and align them with relevant education and skill development opportunities in these high-demand fields. Lastly, provide real-world exposure through internships or job shadowing and create a supportive environment that encourages open dialogue and lifelong learning.

By Moses Lukhwareni

Foster Awareness of the South African Job Market:

To guide your child effectively, you first need to understand the South African job market yourself. Certain sectors in South Africa are experiencing significant growth and thus have high employment opportunities. For example, the technology sector, particularly areas like data science, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence, is expanding rapidly. Other high-demand careers include healthcare professionals, renewable energy engineers, and various roles within the agricultural sector like precision farming.

How to Know What Jobs are in Demand?

Knowing what jobs are in demand in South Africa involves keeping a pulse on the evolving job market and current industry trends. There are various reliable sources to help you get this information:

1. Government Resources:

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in South Africa regularly publishes a list of occupations in high demand. These lists, usually updated every two years, are based on extensive research involving labor market analyses and industry consultations. They are a valuable resource for understanding which professions are currently sought-after in South Africa.

2. Industry Reports:

Various consulting and research firms publish industry reports that can give insights into job market trends. For example, PwC’s annual ‘Workforce of the Future’ report often contains valuable information about job demand in various sectors. Similarly, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and other similar organizations periodically release detailed industry reports.

4. Universities and Colleges:

Many universities and colleges, such as the University of Cape Town or University of the Witwatersrand, have career services departments that can provide information about job market trends. They can also offer guidance on which degrees or courses are relevant for high-demand professions.

5. Professional Networks:

Engaging with professional networks can give you a first-hand perspective of the job market. Networking events, industry conferences, or seminars often discuss industry trends and demands. LinkedIn can be a valuable platform for such networking.

6. News and Media:

Staying updated with news and media can also help identify job market trends. For instance, the recent focus on renewable energy in South African news suggests a growing demand for professionals in this field.

Once you’ve identified the high-demand jobs, you can guide your child in choosing their study path accordingly. For example, if data science is a high-demand profession, encourage them to consider relevant courses in mathematics, statistics, and computer science. If healthcare professions are in demand, they could look at studying medicine, nursing, or other health sciences. It’s important to remember that while job demand is an essential consideration, your child’s interests and passions should also play a significant role in their career choice.

Identify Your Child’s Interests and Skills:

After gaining a clear understanding of the job market, the next step is to identify your child’s interests and skills. Are they passionate about technology? Do they show an aptitude for the sciences? Or do they have a strong affinity for environmental issues? Understanding their interests will help you guide them towards a career that they’ll find fulfilling and enjoyable. For instance, if your child is interested in technology and shows strong problem-solving skills, they might consider a career as a data scientist or AI ethics consultant.

Let’s consider the case of Elon Musk, a globally recognized figure born in Pretoria, South Africa. Musk showed a keen interest in computing and entrepreneurship at a young age. His passion for these fields eventually led him to co-found companies like PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla, contributing significantly to the tech industry.

Identifying your child’s interests and skills is a crucial step in guiding them towards a suitable career path. Here are some activities that can help:

1. Self-Assessment Tests:

Various online tools and quizzes can help identify a child’s interests, strengths, and weaknesses. Examples include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Holland Code (RIASEC) Test, or the MAPP Career Test. These assessments can offer insights into personality traits, preferred work styles, and potential career interests.

2. Career Days and Job Fairs:

Taking your child to career days or job fairs can expose them to a variety of professions. They can interact with professionals from diverse fields, ask questions, and learn about what each job entails.

3. Job Shadowing:

Arrange for your child to shadow professionals in fields they express interest in. This experience can offer them a first-hand view of what a day in that profession looks like and can help them decide whether it’s a good fit.

4. Creative Projects:

Encourage your child to undertake projects related to their interests. If they love computers, they might code a simple game or website. If they’re interested in the environment, they might start a recycling initiative at their school. These projects can help develop relevant skills and affirm their interests.

5. Encourage Hobbies:

Hobbies can be a good indication of what your child might enjoy doing as a career. For instance, a child who loves to draw might enjoy a career in graphic design, while a child who enjoys building things might be interested in engineering.

6. Volunteer Work or Internships:

Encourage your child to do volunteer work or internships. This can help them explore their interests, develop skills, and understand what type of work they enjoy.

7. Open Conversations:

Have open discussions with your child about their interests, dislikes, dreams, and fears. Ask them about their favorite subjects at school, what they enjoy doing in their free time, and where they imagine themselves in the future.

8. Role-Playing Games:

For younger children, role-playing games can be a fun way to explore different careers. They can pretend to be doctors, teachers, astronauts, or chefs, which could spark an interest in these professions.

Remember, it’s important to approach this process with patience and openness. Allow your child to explore, make mistakes, and learn from them. Your role is to facilitate and guide, helping them discover their own path.

3. Encourage Relevant Education:

Once you’ve identified a suitable field that aligns with your child’s interests, it’s important to encourage them to pursue relevant education. In the context of South Africa, encouraging your child to take subjects like mathematics, computer science, or biological sciences in high school can open a wide range of career paths in the high-demand fields mentioned earlier. For instance, if your child shows an interest in environmental sustainability, taking subjects like biology and environmental studies can set them on the path to becoming a renewable energy engineer or a wildlife conservationist.

Here are seven examples of how parents can match their children’s hobbies to actual qualifications in South Africa:

1. Hobby: Photography

If your child has a knack for taking stunning photos and understanding angles and lighting, they may have an interest in photography. South African institutions such as the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography offer Bachelor of Arts in Photography degrees, which could be a perfect match for their passion.

2. Hobby: Coding/Computer Games

If your child spends their free time coding or playing computer games, they might be interested in a career in computer science or game design. Universities like the University of Cape Town offer Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science. Also, institutions such as the Friends of Design Academy of Digital Arts in Cape Town offer specialized courses in game design.

3. Hobby: Environmental Conservation

For children passionate about nature and environmental conservation, a degree in environmental science could be an excellent fit. Universities such as the University of Witwatersrand offer Bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Science.

4. Hobby: Writing

Children who enjoy writing stories or are always buried in a book might consider pursuing a degree in English or Creative Writing. Rhodes University, for example, offers Bachelor of Arts in English, and the University of Pretoria offers a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing.

5. Hobby: Cooking

If your child has a love for cooking and experimenting with food, they might enjoy a qualification in culinary arts. South African Chefs Academy and Capsicum Culinary Studio are among the institutions offering courses in Culinary Arts.

6. Hobby: Sports

If your child is always involved in sports or athletic activities, they might consider a qualification related to physical education or sports science. The University of Pretoria offers a Bachelor’s degree in Sport Science.

7. Hobby: Helping People/Community Service

Children who are always looking for ways to help others or are involved in community service might be interested in social work or psychology. The University of Johannesburg, for instance, offers a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, and the University of Cape Town offers a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

Promote Skill Development:

In a competitive job market, it is essential to equip your child with the skills that will make them stand out. Formal education is necessary, but it is the development of transferable soft skills that often defines success in the workplace. For instance, Enactus South Africa, a leadership program run by university students, presents an excellent opportunity for your child to develop these skills. Participants in the program work on community-focused projects, fostering critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills.

Taking another example, in 2020, a group of students from the University of Cape Town won the local Enactus competition with a project that sought to address food security and unemployment issues in their community. The project not only had a profound community impact but also helped these students develop valuable skills that would be beneficial in any career.

So, whether your child joins a school club, takes part in a community project, or participates in team sports, these experiences will enhance their skill set, making them more attractive to future employers.

Advocate for Lifelong Learning:

In an ever-evolving world, continuous learning is key to staying relevant. Many successful people attribute their achievements to their commitment to lifelong learning. For example, Mark Shuttleworth, South African entrepreneur and space tourist, founded the Shuttleworth Foundation to support dynamic learning in Africa. The Foundation advocates for openness in education, which is a testament to Shuttleworth’s belief in continuous learning.

Online platforms such as Coursera, Udacity, and edX provide a plethora of courses that cater to various interests. For instance, a child passionate about technology can take up a course on AI, staying abreast with the latest trends in the industry. This commitment to learning should be cultivated from an early age, as it not only enriches one’s knowledge but also ensures their skills remain updated in a fast-paced job market.

Provide Real-World Exposure:

Real-world exposure provides practical insights into potential career paths. An excellent example of this is the ‘Job Shadowing’ program offered by some high schools in South Africa. Students spend a day shadowing professionals in their workplaces, experiencing the realities of the job firsthand.

For example, a student interested in medicine may spend a day with a doctor or nurse, observing their routines, understanding the pressures and rewards of the job. These experiences help students make informed career decisions, and early exposure can fuel their passion for a particular field.

Foster a Supportive Environment:

Creating a supportive environment for your child is integral to their career development. South African actress Charlize Theron is a prime example of this. Theron’s mother supported her ambitions of becoming a dancer and then an actress. Despite the challenges they faced, her mother’s unwavering support was instrumental in Theron’s successful career.

As a parent, it’s essential to listen, offer guidance, and provide emotional support. Career planning can be stressful for a young person, but a supportive parent can make this process much easier. Always encourage open discussions about career aspirations, and remember to respect your child’s decisions, even if they don’t align with your own expectations.

Helping your child choose a high-demand career in South Africa involves understanding the job market, recognising your child’s interests and skills, promoting relevant education and skills development, and offering supportive guidance. By following these steps, you can help set your child on a fulfilling career path with promising employment prospects.


In conclusion, helping your child navigate their career journey is a multifaceted process that requires a delicate balance of guidance and autonomy. Start by understanding the job market landscape in South Africa and keeping up to date with in-demand careers. However, remember that employment trends should not dictate your child’s choice, but rather inform it.

At the heart of the career exploration process is your child’s passions, hobbies, and interests. Take an active role in identifying these through self-assessment tools, career fairs, and real-world exposure. Match their hobbies and interests with actual qualifications available in South African institutions.

Encourage activities that promote skill development, as the importance of transferable skills in the job market cannot be overstated. Furthermore, inspire your child to adopt the habit of lifelong learning, ensuring they remain relevant in an ever-evolving job market.

Providing real-world exposure through internships and job shadowing opportunities can also provide practical perspectives on their chosen careers. And most importantly, foster a supportive environment for your child to express their thoughts and concerns.

Remember, as a parent, your role isn’t to dictate your child’s career path but rather to serve as a guide. Encourage them to explore, to make mistakes and learn from them, and to choose a path that aligns with their interests and passion. By doing so, you are not only helping them secure a successful future but also teaching them invaluable skills to navigate life’s many decisions.

Author: Mr Moses Lukhwareni

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