Original Research

Perceptions of factors that affect employability amongst a sample of final-year students at a rural South African university

Tinashe Harry, Willie T. Chinyamurindi, Themba Mjoli
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 44 | a1510 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v44i0.1510 | © 2018 Tinashe Harry, Willie T. Chinyamurindi, Themba Mjoli | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 December 2017 | Published: 30 July 2018

About the author(s)

Tinashe Harry, Department of Industrial Psychology, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
Willie T. Chinyamurindi, Department of Psychology, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
Themba Mjoli, Department of Industrial Psychology, University of Fort Hare, South Africa


Orientation: The unemployment rate within the South African context is on the rise. Given this, there is a need to understand factors influencing employability amongst a sample of final-year students in preparation for their transit into the labour market.


Research purpose: The overall objective of this research was to explore final-year students’ perceptions of factors that affect employability. This was amongst a sample of students that were enrolled at a rural university in South Africa.


Motivation for the study: Within graduate employability studies, calls have been made to understand the factors around employability especially within a context of high unemployment. This study allows for an understanding of the journey from higher education into the labour market for previously disadvantaged individuals.


Research approach/design and method: An interpretivist, qualitative research approach using an exploratory research design was adopted to explore student perceptions and concerns of employability. Focus-group interviews were used as a data gathering technique amongst 30 final-year students about to exit the university system. Data were recorded, transcribed and processed, and narrative analysis used.


Main findings: Through the analysis, a set of six factors were perceived to influence employability: (1) poor socio-economic status, (2) a poor education system, (3) curriculum issues, (4) the choice of higher education institution and (5) social connections to which the student belongs to.


Practical/managerial implications: Through the identified factors, career counsellors can better understand their clients and those issues that shape their lived experiences. The findings can also assist the provision of better career guidance services.


Contribution/value-add: This study provides an understanding of the complex issues facing potential graduates through lived experiences. It provides an understanding of student perceptions towards employability, which policymakers should consider when addressing the issue of unemployment in the country.


career development; employability; narratives


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Crossref Citations

1. Understanding pedagogical essentials of employability embedded curricula for business school undergraduates: a multi-generational cohort perspective
David Eshun Yawson, Fred Amofa Yamoah
Higher Education Pedagogies  vol: 5  issue: 1  first page: 360  year: 2020  
doi: 10.1080/23752696.2020.1846134