the unemployable: Jobs for the graduates
The election promise of employing the large number of unemployed
graduates has become a milestone round the neck of the coalition
government. Rash election promises to gain votes end up being a
financial burden, especially when coupled with a host of other promises
and diminishing government revenues.
government is attempting to absorb these graduates, who have failed
to find employment in the private sector, in an already over staffed
public sector. The objective of pruning down the size of the public
sector is once again being jettisoned. In an economy reputed to
have the highest persons employed in the public services per population,
the move appears to be imprudent.
political imperatives dictate that it must be done. The way it is
to be done is not yet worked out and there appears to be disagreement
between the constituent elements in the government as to how this
is to be done.
employment of university graduates is a many faceted complex problem
that cannot be resolved easily owing to financial constraints and
absorptive capacities on the one hand, and the inadequate skills
and varied and unrealistic aspirations of the graduates, on the
this context we wish to be positive and helpful rather than critical.
What we wish to suggest is how this employment of graduates could
be least damaging or even bring some benefits to the country.
approach in employment of graduates is to upgrade the recruitment
qualifications to the public services. This has hardly been done
in many public services. Unlike in the colonial past when the SSC
or its equivalent, the GCE ordinary level, was adequate, this is
hardly so in the modern situation. The poor quality of staff in
many public services is the consequence. This proposal would have
to necessarily go in tandem with the raising of salaries. For instance,
we would have a more intelligent police service if recruitment to
it were of graduates. This applies to many other services in the
agricultural extension service could profit by training those with
a suitable background in agriculture and extension, and teacher
training for graduates could improve the teaching profession qualitatively.
The Central Bank has in fact for many decades done this in practice.
recruitment for non-staff grades required lower qualifications than
a degree, in practice most recruits to clerical grades were graduates.
The higher salaries in the Central Bank and the prospects for advancement
lured many good graduates unto such employment. It may be pertinent
to mention that some of them went on to obtain postgraduate qualifications
and Ph.D.s and became high officials in the Central Bank and in
most important aspect of graduate employment is the need to provide
the recruited graduates with suitable training. Irrespective of
what subjects these graduates have studied, it should be possible
to train them in the required skills both through training programmes
and on the job training.
would essentially be of short duration. The programme of graduate
employment should estimate the needed skills, determine the required
training, organise training facilities and deploy the graduates
in the most suitable fields of activity. Such an approach would
not merely provide job opportunities to the graduates but contribute
to the economy through their work adding to the goods and services
produced by the country.
if the graduates are recruited to positions that do not require
them and are employed merely to give them an income, then the economy
will lose rather than gain. Employing graduates productively is
the key issue.
are also several dimensions of the problem from the graduate's perspective.
The graduates should be humble enough to recognise that they have
deficiencies that have to be corrected through training to enable
them to work efficiently and effectively. They must be willing to
undergo training rather than rest on their laurels, merely because
they have already obtained a degree.
orientation programme designed to develop the correct attitudes
would be most useful. Attempts to recruit graduates for employment
in the private sector failed owing to unsatisfactory attitudes of
graduates. They felt that certain jobs were below their dignity,
that undergoing training was superfluous as they were graduates
and that they did not get adequate respect and recognition of being
university graduates from their colleagues. These attitudes are
not satisfactory even for public sector employment, especially if
their recruitment is for a broader range of employment.
hope the new programme of graduate employment will not merely "provide
jobs for the boys", but that their employment would increase
production and productivity of the economy and improve the quality
of public services in which they are employed. Then it would not
be a severe strain on the economy for years to come. A lesson that
must be learned for the long run is that university education too
must be planned so that the emphasis is on those areas where employment
opportunities are available.