Tarmacking graduates ticking time bomb

Research shows 53 per cent of college graduates are unemployed or working in a job that does not require a bachelor’s degree.

Photo credit: File | Fotosearch

The story of unemployed university graduates (DN, April 15) should touch everybody’s heart, more so our leaders. Education is the cog that drives civilisation and national development. A solid education system is one of the pillars of any nation. A society that seeks to develop must first invest in human capital.

The primary aim of education is to improve individuals.  In Kenya, however, there’s a growing consensus that job creation has not kept pace with the number of young people seeking employment. To help them, we need to change the way we do things.

First, there ought to be a mandatory one-year stint at the National Youth Service to equip the graduates with life skills.  Most students are apathetic to education and are in school to graduate and make a lot of money as quickly as possible. None is willing to study to possess the skills to enable them to make the money.

Secondly, some university lecturers lack current knowledge. Sadly, most of them are sexagenarians, septuagenarians and octogenarians and, therefore, impact obsolete knowledge to the youth. Sadly, they can only impart what they know.

Some of the lessons are akin to teaching them how to use typewriters, fax machines, stencil printers, telephone booths, video cassette recorders and such other obsolete technologies.

Our university graduates, even with good grades, upon graduation come out confused and don’t know how to handle life and make the best of it. For now, the dire effect of the bulging youthful, energetic unemployed population with no contribution to the growth of the country is a matter of great concern.

 As it is, there is no room for fresh university graduates to learn the ropes. Employers are only interested in what they can squeeze out of their workers until the last drop of sweat dries off their bodies, even as the job market is saturated with graduates.

Emphasis should be on entrepreneurship. We’re also in the innovation era, when young people should be encouraged to use more of their brains than hands.

Morris Mbetsa, the Mombasa whiz kid who was featured in the Daily Nation recently, has shown the way. At only 30, and though not a university graduate, Mbetsa has stormed the world of innovation with discovery after discovery. He is now a celebrated entrepreneur employing university graduates.

So it is true that it is “C” students who run the world. Remember the joke about “A” students being employees of “C” students?

 However, we shall not close our universities because there are no jobs for the graduates. Gone are the days when jobs were the reward for attainment of a university degree.

Nigeria, with 52 state universities, 43 federal universities and 79 private universities, continues to churn out graduates globally.  In the 1970s and the 1980s, when Kenya boasted only the University of Nairobi, the West African nation had 15. It ‘exports’ its graduates around the world.

Ngure Kamau, Nyandarua


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