Failure is a life-lesson 600 000 should-be Matriculants are privileged to learn.

A lot is being made of the fact that the South African matric pass rate for 2013 was not in excess of 70% as reported by the Minister of Education, but actually in the 30’s. This is true when you consider that the Public School sector had weaned out 60% of those who had enrolled in Grade 1 by the time Matric had been completed. So what?

The reality is that there are close to 600 000 people out there of the same age as those others who matriculated in 2013, but without a Matric certificate. Again, so what?

Firstly let me say to you if you are one of those, that it is not your fault. You are not to blame. She, the Minister  is the one who has failed you. Her Government has failed you and ultimately the people of this country, your parents have failed you for giving her license to mess up your future the way she has. The system has failed you for not prioritizing you. You need not to get depressed but to get angry because anger fuels action. Be angry that you have been failed by the system and do something about it.

What can you do, if you are one of those who did not even make it to Matric, or whose matric is worthless because of the mark you got? Here are 10 things for you to consider.

1. A Job – any job, any experience is worthwhile. While others are striving to become Doctor’s, Lawyer’s and Engineer’s, understand that with persistence and experience, especially that of starting from nowhere and proving yourself, will eventually get you to your dream career. Indeed along the way, like myself, and so many others I know, your dream career will invariably be nothing like that which you imagine now. But you will never find out what it is, if you do not start working. You are not going to be judged by your job or it’s title but by the quality of your contribution and the recognition you earn from those who matter, doing that job.

2. While your matriculated peers are studying, they are out of action. You have the opportunity to carve your career and the luxury of starting from the bottom. You have the luxury of time to build a CV your peers at University or College do not have. Employers always value competency and relevant time in the workplace, over qualifications without experience.

3. Any income is worthwhile. Forget about that proverbial minimum wage. That is something invented by Trade Unionists to ensure they have a job, not to take care of you. Any income, even R500 a month is something, which you do not have right now so take it. Don’t be stupid enough to be convinced by people who have no actual interest in your wellbeing, that taking something, when you have nothing, is somehow beneath you. It is not. Not doing so is just you being absolutely stupid, showing how naïve you are and avoiding a decent meal for you and those dependent on you.

4. The Constitution guarantee’s you right of association with a Trade Union but equally guarantee’s you the right not to be associated with Trade Unions. Being associated with a Trade Union is generally considered by Managers and Owners, bad for your career. They cannot stop you joining one but it will add absolutely nothing to your CV or future promotion prospects.

You should however have the right kind of Labour Relations protection so consider taking out personal Legal Protection Insurance instead of paying a monthly fee in dues to a Trade Union. Employers view people who belong to Unions as minimum wage labour and certainly never worthy of more than the most basic of nominal promotions. You are judged in the workplace as an individual and unionism and productivity never, ever go hand in-hand.  No Manager likes someone who cannot think for themselves and needs to think and act in packs.

5. Going back to study as an older and more mature student has its perks including better financed, experienced and relatable history. So you failed matric, did not complete matric or dropped out in Grade 10. You are still eligible, after gaining sufficient work experience and addressing some of the academic shortfalls either through correspondence or part-time study, to go to University under a “Mature Student” application. The irony is that the longer you wait to do so, the more experience and maturity you bring to the classroom and the better you will obviously do in your programme.

6. Managers and Ownersare not bad. They have taken the financial risk often at great personal expense and irrespective of what you have been told, they are good for you to learn from. They want you to be competent because that means less scrapped product, less errors, fewer dissatisfied customers and ultimately more income generating productivity.  They will train you and invest in you if you show the hunger and also of course the loyalty.

7. Progress is based on individual productivity and not on group-think. You cannot hide behind a group of peers when you are pointed out for a mistake or are unproductive. Group-think and working to rule does not work in the workplace. You will get fired for not thinking and acting for yourself and your personal conscience. The sooner you start exhibiting your own value system in how you do your work and in your attitude to the company, the better for you.

8. While China is moving away from a labour-intensive economy, a huge gap is being created on the worlds manufacturing stage for inexpensive and productive labour countries. To-date South Africa has been further than any other semi-developed country from that dream but that can change depending on your own personal value system and your willingness to think for yourself. Enough independent free-thinking people in the workforce and this country suddenly starts looking ready to compete on the global stage.

9. Get your hands dirty rather than living on the streets in the dirt. Don’t be afraid of the hard, manual and dirty jobs. Some of the wealthiest people in every society are tradespeople. Electricians, plumbers, etc, Unlike Doctors and Lawyers, Engineers and Actuaries, these people don’t spend their lives paying off loans.

10. Focus more on learning from your peers than judging them for the color of their skin or their religion, or worse their gender. The beauty of our country is just how rainbow-like it is. Make the workplace a rainbow-like environment and everyone will thrive in it.