Why graduates are unemployable

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-According to Namibian employers about 50 percent of young graduates tend to lack the basic skills of writing, basic school mathematics, reasoning, communication and general knowledge.

“Graduates think they are management material but many cannot even speak English very well,” says the findings from the survey done to assess the challenges for employers in implementing apprenticeship programmes.
One of the concerning findings was that around 60 percent of graduates are not working in the profession they were trained for, which points to an absence of proper career guidance, job attachments and internships.

Employers also point out that in their experience Namibian graduates lack basic behavioural competencies and skills when entering the workplace. “They may have sound theoretical knowledge but application is core. For this ability to work in teams, attitude, communication and discipline remain critical,” says the findings. Generally, employers also noted “people receive certificates [and qualifications] but do not display the skill they claim to have.”
The findings are based on a survey of employers and graduates in the country. Business Intelligence Africa did the study for the International Labour Organisation, the Namibian Employers’ Federation, and Global Apprenticeship Network.

Among the graduates who participated in the survey were those who studied at the University of Namibia, the Namibia University of Science and Technology and the public vocational training centres. Also taking part in the survey were graduates from private training and university institutions such as the International University of Namibia, Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology, and Philippi Trust Namibia. Many of those who participated in the survey are graduates from the vocational training centres, which fall under the Namibia Training Authority (NTA).

It was perhaps for this reason that the employers also recommended that the NTA consider that vocational schools cater for private and public businesses with highly professional skills. It was also found that not all graduates are exposed to experimental learning. “NTA must start funding student allowances to ensure all students get experience needed,” recommended the employers.

It was also suggested that apprenticeships and on-the-job training programmes be rolled out so that young people who graduate can learn basic communication skills and problem solving. This would also help graduates learn experience and become employable and the country not just have graduates whose only knowledge is theory.
The study recommends that career guidance be introduced at school level and if possible to have some kind of internship also at school level. Education and training institutions are also asked to align tertiary and vocational education to meet the demand of the business community.

Therefore, education needs must be aligned with what employers want, as currently there are courses training people for education that employers do not need.

“Training providers should train for the industry, meaning training should be demand-driven and curricula development should be based on the needs of businesses,” is one of the recommendations.

“Ensure that training matches the needs within a company or industry. Keep up to date with changes in technology, work practices and market dynamics so courses are relevant to industry needs. Equip young people with critical core skills, such as problem solving, teamwork, and communication,” is another recommendation.

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