Matric 2023 – Does It Position Matriculants For IT Careers?

In Thursday’s announcement, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga revealed the 2023 matric results, showcasing an impressive pass rate of 82.9%. This marks a continued upward trend in National Senior Certificate (NSC) pass rates over the past decade, with the percentage increasing from 60% in 2009 to the current 82.9%. Despite facing unprecedented challenges such as COVID-19, the matric class of 2023 demonstrated resilience and determination and is to be resoundingly congratulated.

The 2023 pass rate

While celebrating the impressive pass rates, it is crucial to conduct further analysis to ensure that the subjects passed equip graduates for careers in emerging fields such as Information Technology and Artificial Intelligence. This positive momentum in South Africa’s education system lays the foundation for a brighter future, emphasising the importance of continued efforts to enhance both access and quality in education.

One of the major tools and enablers of adaptation is the ICT, AI, and Big Data complex, the core of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). This is the driving force behind a lot of new development, decision-making, and economic activities. It is the driver behind the development of the new careers that this generation of matriculants will find opening up, including the culture and entertainment industries.

STEM Education

In the context of South Africa’s journey towards a modern 4IR economy, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects must assume a central role in the nation’s public education system. The 2023 matric results, with their commendable pass rates, underscore the importance of fostering a strong foundation in STEM disciplines.

As industries evolve and technology becomes increasingly integral to every aspect of our lives, prioritising STEM education becomes synonymous with preparing the youth for the demands of the future workforce. Encouraging a robust emphasis on STEM subjects will not only empower students with the necessary skills for 4IR but also position South Africa as a global contender in the rapidly advancing fields of technology, innovation, and scientific discovery. A strategic focus on STEM education is a crucial step in ensuring the country’s sustained growth and competitiveness in the dynamic global economic landscape.

The global ICT talent deficit

It’s no secret that there is a global ICT talent deficit that is having a severe impact on the global economy. According to research conducted by global organisational consulting firm Korn Ferry, there will be a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people by 2030. Unchecked, this talent shortage could result in about US$8.5 trillion in unrealised annual revenue.

Looking closer to home, South Africa currently has a skills shortage of between 20,000 and 70,000 high-end ICT professionals. This comes notwithstanding the country’s high unemployment rate, whereby according to Statista, South Africa is expected to register the highest unemployment rate in Africa in 2024, with around 30 percent of the country’s labour force being unemployed. The global skills shortage puts South Africa at further risk of losing skilled professionals to developed countries trying to compensate for their shortfalls, meaning that even more professionals will be required to bridge the gap in the country.

With the above in mind, closing the skills gap is the difference between having a recession or a growing economy. We cannot expect to be able to close the skills gap if we are not producing high-school graduates who are meeting the standard necessary to pursue ICT at a higher education level. Reducing the pass rate means that many students will receive a bachelor’s endorsement on paper but still not have the necessary marks to pursue a bachelor’s degree. This is not only a disservice to the country’s youth and what they strive for but also to the future of our country.

Belgium Campus is a South Africa-based pioneering ITversity in South Africa that helps raise the bar in private education in the ICT industry.

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