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11.08.2019 Feature Article

From Internship To Degree To National Service To Unemployment — The Life Of A Graduate Without Connections

From Internship To Degree To National Service To Unemployment — The Life Of A Graduate Without Connections
AUG 11, 2019 FEATURE ARTICLE

This is sad, go to school they said, you'll get a good job. People are done, and are here experiencing anxiety of what they are to become. The 2018 service persons are done. They have to confront the challenges of adding up to the graduates who are still unemployed. We are unable to use the same energy we used in posting fresh graduates for National service in posting them for permanent employment after the one-year compulsory service.

I would like to make it clear, in parentheses, that I am not dull enough to suppose that nothing has, or is being done to address Graduate Unemployment in Ghana. I see Nation Builders Corps, Planting for Food and Jobs, etc. It is our hope and fervent prayer that these serve their purposes well.

It is still factual to say many graduates are still unemployed in Ghana. Unemployment is a global issue, and we need to tackle it by any means possible. Securing Internship to gain practical experience is even a hurdle, yet graduates are expected to have a working experience. Like seriously?

Someone might wonder why my frustration. Unemployment rate in Ghana is over 50% and yet still students have completed universities this year. What then becomes our fate? This is where I become extremely bitter from the very core of my being if there should ever be RECKLESS and INSENSITIVE management of this country-- It plunges us into HOPELESSNESS.

The students are ready for the job market, but is the job market ready for them? GIANTS in the market like GCB is laying off workers, how much more the small private owned saving and Loans companies which are even struggling to meet minimum capital requirement? Businesses which will give us jobs are shrinking. In the public sector, there is a freeze on employment, except someone dies, or retires. What opportunities exist for graduates to establish their own trade, and even if they exist, is the business environment friendly enough to empower them to succeed? Will they get the required capital as start-up from these banks which are even struggling more to get the required minimum capital?

We all know and understand how important it is to create businesses. Many graduates can do that. But let's face it, the stats says that about 80% of new businesses fail, and the few that succeeded had to resurrect after the third fall. Where comes the financial muscle for endurance and perseverance?

I have heard this repeatedly, “those graduates are full of empty pride, if they suck their pride, this would be less, but because they think they are better, we are here.” Some people want graduates to be doing something like washing cars and selling pure water on the street. Fair enough, what then will make the fresh graduate with BA. Economics different from her mother who sold pure water on the street to take the daughter through university so that they may have a “better” Life? If a graduate is washing cars for income, it is not employment. Underemployment is a form of unemployment. Some graduates are not lazy like people say. There were colleagues at the university who were working as security men in the night for a private company. These guys are okay if they are maintained as security men, but are paid as graduates. Not possible right?

People often say “Unemployment rate is high because looking for a job is what young people were taught". In as much as I may agree on some few shortcomings in our educational system, the notion is not entirely true.

Lack of skills among the graduates is a fallacy perpetuaded by employers to deny youths job. When unemployment is very high, that is when employers decide to use graduates and interns like slave.

Graduates cannot live that way. Roaming the whole city fruitlessly looking for a decent job or trying to start a business is not an ennobling experience. This entails fear, hopelessness, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Our leaders should not refuse to know this.

The people who can bring meaningful change regarding service delivery, job creation, and economic growth are the highly skilled; non-politically connected graduates who are currently at home, unemployed.

We can and should stand up and do something for ourselves and our country. Unemployed graduates, but still be a proud Ghanaian, God bless Ghana!

The writer Isaac Bawuah is a fresh graduate of KNUST.

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Isaac Bawuah
Isaac Bawuah, © 2019

This author has authored 7 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: IsaacBawuah

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