Looking for jobs in Ghana in recent times has become more like a full time job among many fresh as well as old graduates. The nostalgic days in the 1950s to 1980s where companies lined up to woo fresh university graduates are far removed from today's job search landscape in Ghana.
Ghana is a country of 24 million people according to the 2012 statistical projections. It has 6 public universities and dozen other private universities which all together churn out some 7000 graduates each year. Apart from the universities, polytechnics, teacher training colleges and other tertiary institutions produce their own share of fresh graduates every year. It is estimated that over 120,000 graduates are produced in Ghana every year.
The problem then arises when these fresh graduates with wonderful dreams of 'finish school, get a job and settle down', come face to face with the harsh realities on the ground. Typically, a Ghanaian fresh graduate has to undergo a compulsory 'National Service' programme for one year. During that time, most of them try as much as possible to secure permanent employment with the companies, institutions or agencies they have been randomly attached to. But studies have shown that less than 2 percent get retained.
The main job search battle begins after National Service. Many graduates send several CVs to several companies only to get no reply. A graduate friend of mine who completed Ghana's number 2 most prestigious university, Kwme Nkrumah University of Science and Technology told in February 2013 that he sent over 60 job applications in 2012 and got less than 5 responses. To him, looking for jobs in Ghana 2013 and 2012 was more difficult than the 4 years he spent on his degree.
Work Experience Frustration during Job Search
According to a number of fresh graduates, nothing is more frustrating than the demand for work experience during their job search. They ask: 'how can we have work experience when nobody wants to give is the first chance'? So which one first; get a degree first or work experience first? That's the dilemma many fresh graduates in Ghana have to grapple with every single day of their job search struggles.
Job Search Turned Into Full Time Job Among Ghana Graduates
It is an irony but true that job search has become a full-time job for many fresh graduates in Ghana. According to a recent research finding of the department of Economics in University of Ghana, out of the 120,000 fresh graduates churned out each year in Ghana, only 25% are absorbed into active employment. The rest 75% simply don't have enough opportunities for employment. So this backlog keeps pilling to gargantuan levels. As a result, stiff competition has become the watch word among job-seeking graduates. Many just wake up each day moving from one company to another, sending one CV or resume or applying for scholarships. In the evening, they draw plans for how to continue their job search the following day.
Men, some greedy, lustful, evil, and uncultured men are taking advantage of the frustrating situation to lure fresh graduate females into having sex with them before offering them a job. In Ghana now, it is commonplace to give something in return for a job or continue seeking for one without any progress. As for their male counterparts, you have to 'know' somebody before you are likely to get a job. This 'know' often means the person should be your blood relation, old school mate (senior or junior), etc.
The way forward
Governments and industry on the one hand and academia on the other hand should find ways to agree on programmes that are relevant to industry so that fresh graduates are equipped with skill sets needed by industry. In addition, students should make it a point to partake in internship and attachment programmes while in school. They should also participate in extra-curricular activities to enhance their leadership skills.
From: Richard Dogbe, General Manager of JobhouseGhana.Com, a leading website for Current Jobs in Ghana. He's a prolific writer, a professional marketer who holds MBA from University of Ghana, Legon and a certificate from ICM-UK.