How long did it take you to get a job after graduation?
If you are among the few lucky ones, you got a job even before you left campus. You were strategic or made use of your relatives’ connections to fast track your career. Some of you straight away started your own small businesses and never looked back. the fact remains, many people take long to find jobs after graduation. But why?
In Uganda, like any other African country, jobs are few and very competitive.
The population stands at estimated 40m people. Of these, around 5,000 are leaving university to enter into the job market every year. However, most of them have been trained that public service is the only ideal employer. Yet the jobs available in government are very few to absorb all graduates. The other alternative for such university graduates is the private sector or travelling abroad for greener pastures.
Currently, the private sector in Uganda has been experiencing significant challenges in growth, due to a sluggish economy attributed to bad politics and budget misallocation. Government is a key player in economic transformation and the largest business partner for private sector company. When government is struggling due to reduced inflows and therefore low tax collections, the general economy experiences a downturn. When the economy is not expanding enough to empower the private sector to absorb prospective employees as much as possible, unemployment increases.
In many countries, there is a clear system of identifying brilliant people who should proceed to university and those who need to technical education. Usually, the best performers are advised to proceed to University education so that they conduct research and develop innovative ideas to transform humanity. The average performers should go into vocational and technical academic training. You expect that after senior six, a person who scores above certain points should proceed to either university, and those who do not make the cut proceed to vocational training.
The reason why people go to universities is to get training to do research, write new concepts and theories. The people who then go to vocational institutions can build on the research to make new products. In Uganda, the education is about who has the money not who can do what.
You find that brilliant people end up going for vocational studies and the average are admitted to Universities. When such mediocre people going to University, they are copy cats, and these are most of the people involved in cheating. How do you ask someone to do for you exams so that you remain ignorant?
You find someone who can’t think on their own. Much as there was money in the system to take them to any level, they can’t afford to publish a research paper. You have seen the quality of the published research papers from universities in Uganda. Of course, once in a while, you visit the University library and come across a well written research paper which is outstanding. Such is a rare occurrence these days. However, research papers written by students during the 1960’s are outstanding. You read the paper, again and again and wonder whether it was authored by several professors or a mere students.
If you travel to countries like China, Germany, USA which are known for workmanship, there is a clear distinction between people who attended university and vocational training. It is not by surprise to find a professor of craftmanship. They are very good for example in plumbing. They joined vocation training after completing ordinary level but focused on handwork.
The thinking that anyone who joins vocational training is failure is poor mindset. You want education which gives everyone an opportunity to succeed.
But the system should be able to guide people. When we talk about career guidance, we should tell who should be a doctor, lawyer, and carpenter. Our education system makes someone who should traditionally have done well as a carpenter become a medical doctor. You end up having somebody working 20 times trying to be a doctor, and when they finally qualify, they are not motivated in the profession. They find that they have to put in a lot or work harder in order to produce average results. That is not good. You need a natural. Someone who finds doing the work of their profession so swift like drinking water.
It is this lack of strategic career guidance that we have many graduates looking for jobs.