‘University graduates don’t have the skills for the labour market’

African universities have been producing too many graduates with costly degrees and diplomas who lack the mastery of skills necessary in the 21st century labour market.

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That is according to researchers at the African Development Bank in a new policy research report released this year, titled “Creating Decent Jobs: Strategies, Policies, and Instruments”.

This is as concerns grow for the number of graduates from Africa’s higher learning institutions who will find themselves unemployed, because of a stagnant economy and the increasing unemployment rate.

In the report, the African Development Bank revealed that most of the degrees awarded by African universities lack the academic rigour, relevance and career-focused skills to enable graduates to get decent jobs.

One of the unemployed graduates Asanda Dunywa, who studied a bachelor of public administration, said they were led to believe that education is the key to success.

“But when you’ve attained that key, you learn that for the door to open it has some kind of padlock.

“We obtain these degrees and then it’s so hard to get a job, let alone an internship that can help us get experience in our particular fields of study.

“It’s so frustrating, and then we end up working in places where you’re not even acknowledged that you’re a degree-holder,” Dunywa said.

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, president of the Africa Development Bank Group said: “Our challenge is to ensure that Africa’s economies grow more rapidly and in ways that create quality jobs for its teeming youths. Africa must arise and pull itself up, and develop with pride. For there’s no pride in massive unemployment of youths.”

Africa’s unemployment statistics exclude those in vulnerable employment and those who are under-employed in informal sectors. “Young people [in Africa] find work, but not in places that pay good wages, develop skills or provide a measure of job security,” reports the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank.

The Brookings Institution considers under-employment a problem serious enough to warrant greater attention, since it masks the reality in countries that post low unemployment rates.

More than 70% of the youth in the “Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda are either self-employed or contributing to family work,” adds the Brookings Institution report.

Mugie Yohanar.

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