There is no doubt that the world of work in the 21st century requires a much more multi-skilled and self-sufficient labour force. Higher education institutions are consequently expected to fulfil the growing need for students and graduates to be work-ready when they are about to enter the job market for the first time. More than ever before, they are expected to compete and flourish in a rapidly changing economy, while also actively and creatively seeking to contribute to knowledge production in society.

A degree is no longer enough to guarantee you employment or a satisfying career. More and more companies are looking for work-ready graduates with job-specific skills – over and above academic qualifications – with which they can start making a difference. To have a competitive advantage in the job market, students and graduates therefore need to develop better employability or work readiness skills throughout their time at university.

Against this background, a ready-for-work initiative was launched by the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Career Services and Enterprises University of Pretoria (Enterprises UP). Graduate employability is very important to the University and giving its students and alumni a boost when it comes to succeeding in the world of work and life, is what sets UP alumni apart from the rest.

The Ready for Work Programme has specifically been designed for students and graduates from UP to acquire the requisite skills and attributes to help them integrate into the world of work more easily and includes skills and knowledge that not only enhance their professional and personal profiles, but also assists in making a meaningful contribution to the workforce, their communities, and the economy while being successful in their chosen careers.

The Ready for Work Programme consists of four course packages that include either free or pay-per-options that all focus on career planning, job preparation and workplace skills. All modules in the first three packages are free, self-paced, and are presented fully online. The final package, focusing on specialised skills, consist of online courses and face-to-face workshops that are available at a nominal fee.

The Career Planning Package aims to assist students with planning a successful career and enhancing their job satisfaction. This package will ultimately help them to choose a career, create a career plan, select potential employers most beneficial to their overall career goals, engage in activities to enhance their CVs and learn the basics of entering the workplace.

As part of the Job Preparation Package, they are provided with information to assist in looking for job opportunities, realising the importance of digital profiling and emphasising the skills they need when seeking job prospects.

The Workplace Skills Package provides skills to help you follow instructions more accurately, become aware of what is allowed in the workplace and how to communicate professionally with all stakeholders within the workplace. In contrast to job-specific skills, workplace skills provide general aspects that can be applied regardless of your chosen profession.

Lastly, the Specialised Skills Package goes beyond the basics, with various targeted courses that will allow you to perform more specialised workplace or day-to-day tasks. The face-to-face workshops that are part of this package are presented during the UP recesses in April and July.

Entrepreneurship – as an important overall skill – also provides students and graduates with an opportunity for self-employment, while simultaneously promoting employability and job creation. Requisite entrepreneurial skills are seen as a driver of change in seeking self-sufficiency and job creation.

Therefore, in addition to the Ready for Work Programme, students can also enrol for the free online Entrepreneurship Programme (a Professional Online Development (POD) short course) that forms part of ready-for-work initiative.

Through this initiative, UP and Enterprises UP are taking the much-needed steps to equip all students with empowering and life-enhancing skills to successfully move from an academic setting to the work domain by applying essential and specialised skills to improve all students and graduates’ prospects for employability.

In the next two parts of the Ready for Work series, we delve into the importance for students and graduates to start building their digital profiles and personal brand strategies, as well as boosting their interview and professional communication skills when landing a job interview.

For more information about the Ready for Work Programme, go to

Read more: Ready for Work Programme launched for UP students and graduates (Part 2)