Invest in training fresh graduates for job market

Centenary Bank’s customer week activities, kicked off by the senior management manning the reception and the tellers’ booths at Mapeera House, sets an example on good corporate leadership but has also reignited the sometimes skewed debate on the employability of graduates.

As the graduation season approaches, questions about the employability of the graduates are for the umpteenth time being asked by prospective employers.

Employability entails acquisition of skills required in today’s workplace. When graduates leave college, most of them have not been exposed to the practices and many do not have the competencies required.

Employers have to spend money, time and other resources customising their various qualifications to their particular operations and needs.

Employability can be achieved through practical experience made possible through institutional collaboration and partnership with employers.

This can be done through formulation of relevant curricula, internship placements, sponsoring scholarship programmes and employing the beneficiaries on graduation.

According to a British firm that has carried out research into the phenomenon of lack of employability, it takes about two and half years to train fresh university graduates for the job market! Basically, these include customer handling skills, interpersonal skills and teamwork, numerate analytical skills, speech and writing communication skills, the ability to use modern information and computer technology.

Sam Owalabi (RIP) explained in his Foreword to James Nkata’s book, Emerging issues in Education Management in Developing Countries in the 21st Century that the challenges facing education include the need to make the content of education relevant to client systems, the need to modernise teaching and equipping leaders with a repertoire of management techniques.

Related to the modernisation and diversification of teaching methods is the efficacy of the professionals, technical personnel with experience of various kinds from the public and private sectors delivering guest lectures at universities to give students aance knowledge of the organizational culture of potential employers and pre-experience of what is required in the workplace environment.

Public-private partnerships can go a long way towards making university education more relevant. During a Foreign Policy Review Project working visit to Malta’s Foreign Ministry in 2012, my seniors and I were pleasantly surprised to find that a Catholic priest headed the Diaspora desk in the Prime Minister’s Office and the professors at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomacy at the University of Malta previously worked at the Foreign ministry.

Likewise, the senior directors at the latter were former professors at the Academy which graphically demonstrated the efficacy of public-private partnerships.

While on the Beijing leg of the project, the delegation found that the Executive Vice President of China’s Foreign Affairs University, Prof Qin Yaqing, was a member of the Foreign Aisory Group of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and when we met Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zhai Jun, the idea of a member of academia from a private university being on an official delegation and doing official government work was highly applauded as the right way forward in the age of public diplomacy, which attempts to include all the stakeholders in policy formulation.

An ingenious contrivance designed to train fresh graduates was the inclusion of new employees attending high level meetings held with Chinese authorities. When we asked who the young men and women were, the answer was, “newly recruited officers listening-in in order to learn”!
Mr Baligidde, a former diplomat, is Director of UMU’s Rubaga Campus.

sbaligidde@umu.ac.ug

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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