In the past, searching for jobs after graduating from the university was the easiest stage in everyone’s life.
Folklore has it that, our great grandfathers and present leaders of the country had company vehicles waiting for them at their graduation ceremonies to offer them employment right after completing the university, not to talk of the free feeding and educational facilities most of our leaders had in the past. This suffice to conclude that, education and getting employment after school was not a hectic deal compared to what we are currently experiencing in Ghana.
Statistically, from 2007 to 2017, the country has recorded an average yearly unemployment rate of 3.45% and majority of the numbers being graduates across the country. Currently, there are nine national public universities, eight technical universities and about twenty nine private universities/institutions. Assuming each university produces about 2,000 graduates (figures based on assumption but in reality, the numbers are higher) on yearly basis, we can imagine the thousands of graduates coming out each year on aggregate.
Unfortunately, our policy does not have a blueprint to ensure that, Universities only graduate specific number of students based on availability of jobs and vacancies in some institutions.
Given that Nkrumah’s established companies are now in ruins, much was expected from our leaders past and present in providing sustainable jobs for graduates. Out of frustration, many of these graduates are forced to work hard and miraculously become entrepreneurs. I can say unemployment has a positive effect on some graduates; it pushes them much further to be innovative (becoming entrepreneurs) but such innovativeness because of the small capital invested turns out to create the sort of employment meant to only feed the entrepreneur on daily basis.
In brief, majority of graduate entrepreneurs create a business venture that employs only himself and a member of the family (subsistence entrepreneurs) which is not liable to absorb a greater percentage of the unemployed in society because of lack of capital.
The greater percentage of graduates who do not have the required capital to even start a subsistence entrepreneurship are left to their fate. What happens is, they end up in the hands of outsourcing companies. Outsourcing companies act more like an intermediary between the employee and the employer and as such, the salary of the employee is paid by the employer to the outsourcing company which takes some undefined percentage of the employee’s salary and the remainder is paid to the employee. In Ghana, owning an outsourcing company has become lucrative because of the unemployment nature and the graduates in a way or the other ends up with these companies. In most of the cases, these jobs offer to graduates the worst of working conditions;
a) These graduates are treated in the companies to believe they do not belong to the company as most of them are denied company name tags.
b) They are given a take home pay (salary) which is far too inadequate to take them home and most of these graduates are married with kids.
c) They are denied bonuses during Christmas and exempted from enjoying certain incentives enjoyed by regular permanent employees of the company meanwhile they perform similar job description.
d) At the least provocation, their contract could be terminated for same reason a permanent staff would be cautioned and pardoned later on.
e) Even most outsourced companies fail to make the Social security payment of their employees and most of these workers are also denied of medical care benefits.
f) These jobs do not have any job security to its employees. In cases where a company is expected to lay off redundant workers, they first consider to lay off all contract workers (those employed through outsourced companies)
The above points and more are the harsh and unfair treatment faced by graduates in recent times in the name of unemployment and unavailability of jobs. The desire to get employed makes most of these graduates get employed even in departments outside their field of study leading to wrongful allocation of resource. This article however suggest that, the rights of graduates whether registered with labour union or not needs to be protected and given a fair share no matter the entity they find themselves.
There should also be a national policy to streamline the activities of these numerous outsourcing companies (even though minority of these outsourcing companies treat their employees fairly) to ensure a fair treatment to their employees in terms of wage, health care and job security and if possible the growing number of outsourcing companies curtailed within the country and their activities well scrutinised by the state.
Our leaders can also encourage innovative entrepreneurship through the financial sector helping interested graduates out with loans based on collateral to be able to establish the kind of business that is able to absorb three or more individuals; this has the tendency of reducing unemployment in both the short and long run period.
Writer: Emmanuel De-Graft Quarshie