Solve puzzle of jobless university graduates

A university degree was not long ago a guarantee of success with a good and well-paying job. It was even better for those who pursued professional courses that were in huge demand then. Graduate engineers, doctors and others were sure of those dream jobs. Not anymore.

Today, thousands of university degree holders cannot get jobs they had hoped for. A key demand in the current medical workers’ strike, for instance, is the posting of intern doctors. They have the skills and knowledge needed in healthcare but cannot find any openings.

Indeed, many university graduates are frustrated and what is emerging is the need to diversify skills. Ironically, they include engineers, lawyers and medics.

True, there is a general problem of youth unemployment. Some 4.5 million young men and women, or 43 per cent of the nearly 50 million population are unemployed. The national unemployment rate is 10 per cent. Failing to secure a job after toiling so hard is harrowing.

A Nation survey has found that hundreds of university graduates are unable to secure jobs because “of a misalignment between the course they have studied and market demands”.

Others suffer due to conflicts between professional bodies that accredit degree programmes and the Commission for University Education (CUE). Some graduates end up in careers they never studied, just to earn a living.

The Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2024, seeks to mandate the CUE with the sole responsibility of accrediting degree courses. If enacted, it will take away the power of accreditation of programmes from bodies, which license and regulate professions.

Universities should develop relevant and demand- driven courses. A direct employment system worked well in the old days, when there were fewer graduates. There are opportunities in voluntary tasks, contracts, and internships. Experience confirms that you understand your area and can deliver results.

Universities should offer practical experience, internships, and exposure to industry to equip graduates with employable skills.