YO MAGAZINEYo School Magazine

Conversations around career guidance should be introduced to learners as early as Grade 8!

By Siphosethu Plata

High school and being a teenager is a very tempestuous time in any young adult’s life. It is a time of coming of age and self-discovery. A major part of that journey of discovery are questions around career choices.

I believe the conversations around career guidance and counselling should be introduced to learners as early as Grade 8 where the learners’ talents, gifts and interests are identified and honed. Many a time, learners get to have the career guidance conversation at Grade 12 when applying for institutions of higher learning such as universities, universities of technology, FET colleges etc. At this point, the learner would’ve spent four years possibly focusing on subjects, extra mural activities and the consumption of knowledge in areas that might not assist them or give them an edge towards the career path they eventually choose in Grade 12.

Not everyone is fortunate and self-assured enough to pursue what they are passionate about. In high school I did Mathematics, Science, Geography and Art. This came as a surprise to my teachers at the time as I chose Art over Accounting which I was actually very good in.

However, I knew that there was no room for Accounting (which was at that level mainly just book-keeping) in what I wanted to study after high school. I wanted to be an Urban and Regional Planner/Developer and I had a keen interest in how human settlements develop, function and evolve over time. I had conducted some research from the various universities on what their requirements are for the course I wanted to study, which was a BSc in Urban and Regional Planning. It takes 3 years to complete this course at a university and 4 years at a university of technology.

Thereafter you can work at either the public or private sector. As I completed my studies from Grade 10-12, I already knew which subjects I needed to have studied to qualify for acceptance at my preferred university and the marks I need to strive for, for admission. Equipped with this knowledge at hand, I kept my eye on the prize.

I had, and still have, a high aptitude for numbers and science; however, my interests and dare I say passion lies with development planning and design. It is very important for one to search within themselves and find a balance between their talents or gifts and what they are passionate about. Purpose and fulfilment can be found where these two intersect. When you are doing what sets your soul and heart on fire, excellence will surely follow.

After completing my BSc in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, I went on to be a project manager within the built environment. I manage the design and construction of building projects, the interaction with stakeholders and community members. Together with the professional team, we ensure that the construction is completed on time, within the budget and passes quality requirement. Majority of the work that I do is within your previously disadvantaged communities in collaboration with state-owned entities to bring services and public environment upgrades to these areas.

What I love about Urban Design/Planning is that you can choose to focus or specialise in different areas e.g. transport planning, urban design, policy planning, development planning, housing etc. I consider myself very fortunate to have discovered my passion at an early age and that I had the courage to pursue it at a time when my parents did not even understand or had heard of “Urban Planning”.

I would encourage every high school learner to visit their local libraries, visit educational websites and read newspapers to research possible career options based on talent and passion. Attain knowledge and research your options. There are so many platforms that you, as a learner, are exposed to in 2019 as opposed to 2005, we are living in an information age.

Siphosethu Plata is Urban Design/ Planning Professional at AKWENI GROUP in Johannesburg.


Mzukona Mantshontsho is the founder of Nyakaza Media Solutions. Nyakaza Media Solutions is an organisation that was established to help community organisations, business entities, and schools to research, write, document, report, analyse, edit, publish newsletters or bulletins in hard-copy, on-line and maintain websites with the relevant content as per the editorial policy of that organisation, school or entity. Nyakaza Media Solutions has a vision to promote and bring dialogue to communities, businesses and schools about issues that affect them. Nyakaza Media Solutions is on a mission to develop and encourage communities, businesses and learners to celebrate the good, applaud excellence, welcome growth, strive to be better individuals, businesses and communities, want more knowledge, discourage bad and counter-productive behaviour as well as communities, businesses and learners that want to be great SOUTH AFRICANS. Nyakaza Media Solutions is making use of Yo School Magazine as a platform that learners in all schools to make use of to write their stories.

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