Mr Chris Diaba (left), Mr Senyo Hosi (right)
In the past, students used to graduate from tertiary institutions with jobs already waiting for them and it was almost guaranteed that all graduates ended up with jobs in either the public or private sector with little or no effort.
The situation has, however, changed with graduate unemployment increasing with each passing year.
It is estimated that out of the over 120,000 students who graduate from the various tertiary institutions across the country annually, only about 10,000 of them are able to get jobs from the government, who is the single largest employer in the country.
It is in line with this that the Springboard, Your Virtual University, a radio programme on Joy FM, used last week’s edition to discuss the “past, present and the future of work.”
Helping with the discussion was the Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors, Mr Senyo Hosi and the Leadership Facilitator, West Africa of the Standard Chartered Bank, Mr Chris Diaba.
Commenting on the past of work, Mr Hosi recalled a conversation he had with his former registrar, who at the time said he needed just two Es to enter university, something which won’t happen today.
“During that period, by the time you are done with school, you actually have a job waiting for you. A lot of people are eager to hire you so employment was not too much a problem,” he stated.
He said this situation was, however, due to economic circumstance of the country at the time.
“We were a new country and we needed the right human resource and the formal education required to sustain the bureaucracy at the time so you were largely guaranteed,” he noted.
Time begun to change
Mr Hosi pointed out that time, however, begun to change, stating that “when I was in school, I could see my seniors graduate and got into management training programmes, but when I also graduated, my colleagues will now also go and do what used to be the HND graduates jobs and this made the HND graduates got much lower opportunities.”
He said the situation was quiet different now, as graduates struggle to enter the job market.
Recapping an encounter with two graduates at a church, he said their biggest problem and fear was whether they will be employed when they graduate or remain unemployed.
“They see their seniors and they see most of them unemployed and unemployment has now become the norm and employment the exception,” he stated.
Bigger supply of graduates
Juxtaposing the past against the present in terms of the world of work, Mr Diaba said, “there is now a bigger supply in terms of university graduates versus the amount of work that is available.”
“The dynamics have changed and it has changed in the sense that now, you would find that there are a lot more people who have degrees than available jobs.
“On top of that is a scenario where a lot of the learning that people are getting in the formal educational setting doesn’t seem to meet the requirements of the job markets.
So a lot of employers are struggling to find the right requirements immediately from the formal tertiary space and therefore many times, when they come in, you would have to either sift through or in addition to that develop them further to be able to fit,” he explained.
Competitive pressure of the present
Commenting on how competition for job placements has increased in recent times, Mr Diaba, said the dynamics had to do with technology.
“The scenario is that if in the past we thought we were competing with only people around us, it’s no longer the case.
There are a lot more channels by which people can access job opportunities.
“Technology creates the situation where people can reach out for job opportunities from all over the world and this could include Ghanaians who are not resident in the country,” he noted.
Unemployment is something in the past
Mr Diabi also pointed out that technology was taking the future of work to the next level, stating that “one of the leaders of predicting the future of work said that employment is no longer something we do but something we choose.”
“So the whole idea that I am unemployed is itself something that is past.
You choose to be employed and choose to be unemployed,” he stated.
He said work was gradually being removed from the corporate space.
“What that means is that companies can no longer have a hold on employment.
The people who you will consider to be working for you are not on your balance sheet and list as your full time staff,” he explained.