Addressing graduates’ employment challenges

Students at a previous University of Rwanda graduation ceremony. Net photo

Globally, job searching after finishing studies is still an issue, and so the youth call for flexible channels through which they can join the employment field. 

During a recently concluded symposium in China organised by the Embassy of Botswana, where the country’s President was the chief guest, among the many issues raised by the students, was the burden of getting a job after school, and the requirements for one to get employed. 

It was comprehensively discussed and the same solution was yet again the order of the day — study and create jobs for others and be at the peak of decision-making. 

Honestly, I have trouble understanding the ‘study and create jobs’ notion because I ask myself “how” and there is still no clear, practical and well-defined way forward by the key players, other than the same old loan scheme which is packed with somewhat unreasonable requirements for a fresh graduate.

There was food for thought though; the issue of unemployment in the youth is not just a single nation’s mayhem, it’s a global outcry. Also, it is clear that job creation is only talked about after graduation; this is not right, and it this needs to be addressed. We should get learners ready for the after school frames of employment.

In this respect, one would be intrigued to seek answers to certain questions, may be the solution lies therein.  Who is to blame for this challenging phenomenon that is making learners detach value for education? How is the curriculum designed and implemented? Does it really contain any instrument to address this challenge and confront the status quo?

The early 90s saw the evolution of science and technology; they were considered the path to the dinner table of innovation, creativity and job creation. Students from all disciplines jumped into these subjects with prospects of tapping into what is dubbed ‘21st Century global skills’. 20 years later, the problem of unemployment is more prevalent among graduates of science and technology. What went wrong? 

Calmly seated, very articulate politicians spoke at length while responding to the questions from the students and amidst that discourse, I noticed a few things that perhaps we have not done and should think about.  It is important that we go back to the basics, diagnose the problem and find the proper medication for this predicament.    

It would be wrong to point fingers, but the answer is simple given the success of some countries. Our curriculum of instruction must be practically oriented towards the adaption of new strategies aimed at preparing undergraduate students with appropriate skills to gain a competitive edge on the job market, not just cramming concepts and theories.

Curriculum developers must not create contrast between education institutions and society, especially regarding what makes society significant. Learning institutions must create that linkage or partnership between universities and industries. This policy is very prevalent in developed economies; students go back home for holidays, their universities send them for internships and provide a report at the beginning of a new semester.

The policy has opened new opportunities for the students, enhanced their skills in different disciplines and advanced their creativity.  The curriculum developers must help us avert this issue by creating a training mode that avails a learning experience for students to be able to acquire employable skills.

The Writer is a PhD student of comparative education and leadership at Beijing Normal University

 

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