HW Careers

Pursuing a Healthcare Career Without Going to University

We often get the message growing up that a university degree is the only way to get ahead in life and be successful. But a lot of people can’t afford to go to university or perhaps didn’t get the right marks in matric. Some may even be qualified to go to university but can’t get a placement because the courses are so full. 

How to Pursue a Healthcare Career Without Going to University

Many believe that going to university is the only way to get ahead in life

Fortunately, that doesn’t mean your dreams of finding a career in health and helping people can’t come true. You can study further, get a good job and start an interesting career without having to go to university first. And there’s more than one way of doing it.

Check Out Government Programmes

In a previous post, we shared just over 76% of matrics passed their exams in 2021, and nearly 37% of those students qualified for university admission. That means there are thousands of school-leavers who won’t be going to university this year. However, they will still want opportunities to start careers and start working. Since South Africa desperately needs skilled workers, there are a variety of ways that government and civil society work together to help people do just that. 

Look into Expanded Public Works Programme

One of the most well-known ways is the Expanded Public Works Programme, where workers get short to medium-term employment with companies that are working on government contracts. This includes fixing elevators in public hospitals, clean-up operations, or building projects. Most of these positions tend to be for unskilled or semi-skilled positions.

Short-term public work projects can help you get job experience without going to university

The EPWP is like an internship, giving workers on-the-job training and work experience. Workers are usually only employed for the length of the contract and get no formal qualifications.

The EPWP is a great programme for helping people to find work. However, it’s less useful if you want to build a long-term career with chances for earning money and good promotions.

Apply for a Learnership

This is where the Learnership programme is so effective. A Learnership includes work and study, and often leads to job placement with the company offering the Learnership. After all, the company has invested time and effort to train you, and they know your hard-working attitude from your years of Learnership. It helps them to hire you!

Students in a Learnership programme receive a stipend and have to do classroom-based learning. At the same time, they go to formal classes at a college or a training centre while they are working. This formal training part of a Learnership leads to a final qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

The on-the-job work experience gives every learner a clear advantage over job-seekers who have no practical experience. No matter how good someone’s training, employers know how important real-world experience is. This is especially true in a healthcare environment that is all about working with different types of people and situations. 

Explore Other Alternatives to Going to University

Technical & Vocational Education & Training (TVET)

You could also choose to study at a private college or a TVET institution. (Technical & Vocational Education & Training). There are lots of different types of private training institutions and many of them don’t require a university pass in matric. However, they may also be more costly. The Department of Higher Education and Training and the Courseslist websites have more information on private colleges and schools if you’d like to take a closer look.

TVET colleges offer specific training to fit jobs within a sector, like mechanical engineering, business management, office administration or teaching. A lot of colleges only require Grade 9 to qualify. However, you don’t receive any stipend or work experience while you are studying.

Working as an admin staff is one way to find work experience without going to university

Free NGO Training Courses

There are also a lot of NGOs that offer free training courses, most often in social and development work. NGOs play a big role in helping deliver healthcare services and improving community welfare. This is done through projects like feeding programmes, victim support groups, home-care visits and after-school care. You can find many of these courses online and some offer an accredited qualification. 

The government has a real focus on helping young people and has a dedicated site of helpful resources. Here you can find information about government programmes, as well as the current Learnerships on offer. 

Working Your Way Towards Your Dream Career

School-life can’t fully prepare anyone for working and studying in the adult world, no matter how well they did in matric! Society is full of choices and different ways of doing things than you find in school. This includes the ways you can work towards your dream career. 

Earning Qualifications

You can build towards your full qualification by doing short courses, studying part-time or taking a Learnership. You can even gather enough work experience to qualify for university after the age of 23. This, despite your not-so-good matric marks. (This is called the Prior Learning Programme.)

The future of learning is bigger than university

If you need to build your career and qualifications over time, you also need to focus on work and services that people will always need. If you can have lots of work variety within the sector, that will be even better. This ensures that you are likely to always find work. Furthermore, this will provide enough diversity and challenges to offer you chances to grow and develop.

Focusing on a career in health and welfare offers you a huge range of possibilities for study and work. This covers all levels of experience and qualifications, as well as many different types of work.

For example, you might not be able to go to university to become a physiotherapist straight away. However, you could study beauty and massage therapy. You can also study anatomy through a sports-training course. From there, you can gain the work experience to qualify for a physiotherapy learnership with a hospital group.

Choose What Works for You

It may feel like not going to university has closed your only way forward. However, with a little digging, you will find a lot more resources and choices available than you perhaps knew about. 

Have an honest – and well-researched look at what you do have. After that, rethink about what you think you don’t have. Consider what captures your interest, what makes you want to learn something and get involved. Then figure out how that passion can keep you working towards what you want.

Try to make choices that work for you right now and in the future. If you can’t afford to study full-time, look for a Learnership that pays you a stipend for working while you study. Alternatively, you can enrol for short online courses you can do while working full-time.

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