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26.08.2008 Feature Article

Solving graduate unemployment in contemporary Ghana. The role of the corporate bodies

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Graduate unemployment has been one of the social cankers that are draining our dear country of her ability to use the products from the highest institutions of learning- universities not forgetting the polytechnics.

There is no single day you do not hear one complaining about graduate unemployment. This is the problem facing us. Graduate unemployment is the situation where university graduates do not get jobs to do after going through the academic ladder successfully.

This problem is commonly found in developing countries where in most cases there are fewer jobs than the number of students who come out of school every year to seek for employment in the corporate world. But, in other instances, corporate organisations have complained of the kind of '' products'' the universities give.

Absolutely meaning that, the ''products'' from the universities do not meet the criteria their human resource department have set for themselves. What are the stakeholders doing about this canker?

For now, it's very obvious that governments over the years have been of no help in terms of ensuring that graduates get the right jobs with respect to programme specification. Political parties come with mouth-watering promises about getting jobs for the educated and the uneducated.

In the long run, governments come out to tell the populace stories different from what they had initially said.

Once again, it is clearly obvious that governments cannot handle these issues alone without the help of other stakeholders in the educational industry. The following suggestions are some well-researched and celebrated solutions to the high growing number of graduate unemployment.

Partnership

In solving graduate unemployment, the corporate bodies also have a key responsibility of ensuring that what is needed is produced for their consumption. The corporate bodies such as Nestle Ghana Ltd, Unilever Ghana Ltd, Anglo Gold Ashanti, Goldfields Ghana Ltd, and Guinness Ghana Ltd among others should make it a policy to partner with at least an educational institution.

This would ensure that the organisation and the universities collaborate to ensure that graduates produced meet the standard of the corporate world. There should again be a time when corporate bodies meet with educational providers to come out with new programmes and syllabi to suit the changing world of business.

There, a clear case is with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) which has been partenered by; Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) , the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and other institutions which has been quiet helpful to students who find themselves enjoying such benefits and opportunities after school.

Other institutions may also take a cue from such worth emulating moves. For some school of thought, the greatest beneficiaries of graduates is the corporate institutions and so giving attachment and internship opportunities to students should not be issue for discussion at all.

But the situation seems how ever since very few corporate organisations willingly give such rare opportunities to students in the tertiary institutions.

Policy

As part of fulfilling their social responsibilities as corporate bodies, they (corporate bodies) could make it a policy to periodically give internship and attachment opportunities to students when they are on vacations. This aspect in one way or the other, partly depends on how the government encourages and motivates corporate bodies to perform such a role.

It is left with the government to make commitments towards achieving such a move. Commitments, such as tax rebates and exemptions for corporate institutions which go through such policies successfully for a number of years, say 5-10 years, should be made available.

Also as part of policy, should be a clause in any further sale or privatisation of assets of the Government of Ghana that a percentage of newly graduated students from tertiary institutions should be absolved into such companies. For instance, 80% of people employed in the newly privatised Ghana Telecom should be fresh graduates.

This is another approach to curb the gradual influx of expatriates in privatise government corporations and also give preference to Ghanaians.

Sponsorship

There has been a tremendous increase in sponsorship of students' activities in recent times especially in the area of beauty pageants and hall weeks. But unfortunately, the same has not been for the sponsorship of entrepreneurship ideas generated by university graduates.

Graduates present academic projects as a requirement by institutions of higher learning before completion. There have been rare occasions where corporate bodies have come out to support individual initiatives of students. Corporate bodies may be commended when it comes to the area of “reality shows” on our televisions.

But even for that, one may argue that, there are a host of such which are irrelevant on our screens but for one reason or the other, have managed to secure corporate sponsorship. Bank PHB of Nigeria which is one of the key sponsors of the just- ended Apprentice Africa needs commendation since their commitment to the programme is making a great impact on the continent of Africa especially in Ghana.

Mention can also be made of some non corporate organisations like the British Council of Ghana which has some well-focused job oriented training programmes like Fast track which is fashioned out to train and connect participants to corporate directors.

Corporate bodies in Ghana are not far from replicating this feat exhibited by countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt among others. In finding ways forward, corporate bodies should invest their quota in individual graduates through sponsorship of projects proposals of graduates of the tertiary institutions.

Corporate bodies could in collaboration with other students groups like the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) help to support the activities of students that seeks to eradicate graduate unemployment. Indeed, such an initiative would be a feather in the cup of corporate Ghana. Pessimists may wonder if anything good can come out of Israel (corporate institutions).

Definitely yes, because there where there is a will, there is a way. Brian Tracy, one of the greatest motivational speakers of our time once said that “The future belongs to the competent, it belongs to those who are very very good at what they do.”

This means that if corporate Ghana is to support our competent graduates in the area of employment then definitely this country is going to experience a high shift from third world to the most desired first world country.

There really exist the need for well established corporate bodies to create an enabling environment for up and coming prospective institutions.

The Association for Ghana Industries (AGI) which celebrated its jubilee anniversary this year (April 2008) has come of age to step up its role in the employment especially graduate unemployment.

CONCLUSION

Now, a critical look at the suggested and proven solutions to graduate unemployment in some first or developed countries like the USAs, UKs, Russias, Germanys, and a host of others tells us that Ghana as well as other African states is not too far from streamlining graduate unemployment. Indeed, like Barack Obama will put it, “Yes, we can!”

The Chronicle
The Chronicle, © 2008

The author has 68 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: TheChronicle

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