The relationship between perceived employability and intention for self-employment among university students
Koloba, Habofanwe Andreas
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Employability of graduates has gained considerable interest among researchers recently. This interest came about because of reported concerns by employers regarding the lack of employability skills among graduates thereby rendering them unemployable. South Africa is experiencing persistently high unemployment rates among the youth, particularly those with degrees. Similarly, self-employment of graduates has gained considerable interest among researchers around the world. Despite high unemployment rates among the youth of South Africa, self-employment levels are disappointedly at low levels. Therefore, knowledge of university students‟ perceptions with regard to employability and intention for self-employment is important. The phenomenon of employability has gradually developed over the decades. This resulted in researchers finding it difficult to come up with a common definition of the concept. Nonetheless, researchers share similar views with regard to the importance of employability, particularly among graduates. Due to the changing nature of the world of work, there is an unprecedented need for graduates to possess employability skills that will enhance their employability throughout their working life. For a long time, there has been a debate in South Africa regarding the preparedness of graduates for the world of work. Employers complain about the quality of graduates while universities feel that employers are not appreciative of their contribution in producing appropriate graduates. Therefore, there is a need to investigate employability of students continuously, as the future workforce will come from this cohort. For many decades, self-employment has been viewed as an important component of economies of many countries. In light of this, there has been an increasing interest in self-employment around the world. In the case of South Africa, research has consistently indicated that compared to countries at similar levels of development, the country lags behind on this front. In response to this, numerous attempts have been undertaken to strengthen actions that encourage and support self-employment as an attractive substitute to wage employment for students. There is a shared view among researchers that the decision to enter into self-employment is preceded by intention. Therefore, there is a continuous need to investigate self-employment intentions in South Africa, particularly among students. This study was conducted to investigate the relationship between perceived employability and intention for self-employment among university students. A quantitative research approach was followed to collect data. A questionnaire was administered among second year, third year and postgraduate students at four universities in two provinces of South Africa. Factor analysis was used to establish whether data were appropriate for analysis. T-tests and ANOVA were used to compare students‟ employability skills, perceived employability and intention for self-employment. While there were no significant differences in terms of employability skills and perceived employability, significant differences were found on self-employment intentions on various variables. Correlation analysis was used to investigate the relationship among the factors of perceived employability and the relationship between perceived employability and intention for self-employment. The results indicated that there is a statistically significant relationship between perceived employability and intention for self-employment among university students. Reflecting on the results of this study it is evident that university students perceived themselves as employable. In line with the results, it is important that the employability skills of students should be developed, as this will enhance their employability. The curriculum should be designed in such a way that it incorporates employability skills. Employers and government should play a meaningful role in this regard. While the majority of students indicated that they intend to be self-employed someday, there were a substantial number of students who do not view self-employment as a career option. Therefore, self-employment should be made a compulsory module across different fields of study. Different stakeholders should be involved in encouraging university students to engage in self-employment activities.