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Feature Article of Thursday, 24 May 2012

Columnist: Assan, John Nidjon

The Impact of Education on Employment and the Unemployment Situation

It is a substantiated fact that the key to career advancement and development is education and on the job trainings and, employment also greatly contributes to this development. Education in general should model children through kindergarten to higher education with all its associated benefits including employment. In other words, one will need to continue to learn and grow in order to succeed through working.

Graduates are making sacrifices including a significant investment of time and money as well as a dramatic lifestyle change to achieve success throughout their life. They are building their analytical, creative, and practical intelligence which they need to cope with a world that is changing in many ways. We all know as a fact that education opens doors to brilliant career opportunities; it creates better prospects in career and growth –financially, emotionally, socially and intellectually. It enables the progress of a nation and enriches society and family; it facilitates advanced pragmatic thinking So, education becomes an eligibility criterion for employment.

The theory of human capital is rooted in the field of macroeconomic development theory (Schultz,1993). Becker’s (1993) classic book, Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with special reference to education, illustrates this domain. Becker argues that there are different kinds of capitals that include schooling, a computer training course, expenditures on medical care. And in fact, lectures on the virtues of punctuality and honesty are also additional capital.

According to the International labour organization (ILO), the four elements of the Decent Work Agenda and their role in alleviating poverty are:
Employment- the principal route out of poverty is productive work.
Rights- without them, women and men will not be empowered to escape poverty.
Protection- social protection and social values safeguard against poverty.
Dialogue – the participation of employers and workers organizations in shaping government policies for poverty reduction is essential.

Let’s consider the following definitions for our discussions, verifiable though.
The labour force is defined as the number of people employed plus the number of unemployed but seeking work.
The employment rate is defined as the number of people currently employed divided by the adult population (or by the population of working age). This means self-employed people are counted as employed. The unemployment level is defined as the labour force minus the number of people currently employed. The unemployment rate is defined as the level of unemployment divided by the labour force.

Why do people seek for jobs at all ? Functional reasonable human beings will think in this direction :
1.Earn money -the major reason why people work is to earn money. Earnings are needed to buy foods, clothing, shelter, family welfare and some major basic needs and necessities.
2.Personal development-many people have the drive to improve themselves and working can provide an opportunity to learn and grow, work can be a great teacher and a career counselor.
3. Self expression-we all have interests, abilities, talents, capabilities and so on, but work is one way which we can express ourselves and bring to open what is within us. It does not matter what kind of work you do so long as it is not illegal and immoral.
4. Positive feeling-people get satisfaction from their work- others work, may give them a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of self worth among other things, make a person complete. A sense of accomplishment is one of the greatest rewards of working and a fulfillment in life.
5.Prestige - other people work because of prestige and the social status they enjoy, the admiration from family and society, the bond attached to them is gratifying.

Christopher Ernst and Janine Berg ILO explain that employment, and the quality of employment, decent work, is crucial for poverty reduction and in achieving growth with equity and pro-poor growth. The link between employment, economic growth and poverty reduction is thus a process in which output growth includes an increase in production and remunerating employment, which in turn, leads to an increase in the incomes of the poor and reduction in poverty.
Furthermore, ensuring that growth is pro-poor requires high employment-intensity of growth and a rise in productivity which also depends on institutions, policies, laws and practices that






positively affect the functioning of labour markets. A functioning institutional environment can support the virtuous circle and, in the process, facilitate pro-poor growth.
Finally, informal employment remains important, persistent and is often even rising. Thus, the quality of work of poor people holding an informal job to be improved through the rise in productivity through vocational training and education, micro and small enterprise development and access to credit. Moreover new strategies are needed to extend social security to informal workers, and to improve their working conditions. Formal job creation has to be accelerated exceeding labour force growth. And the transfer from informal to formal employment should be facilitated through changes in regulations and tax on incentive systems, as well as productivity of informal activities.

The discussion borders much on graduate unemployment, this we take it to be tertiary education from the polytechnics through first to second degrees and others within the brackets. They are seriously looking for jobs to work.
Why are they not getting employment? And why are the employers not employing them? So, where are the jobs? Whose responsibility is it to create them and why are they not creating them? These and other questions we must concertedly and sustainably address.


Every employer of today requires his prospective employees to be “well educated”, he requires expertise. But graduates believe after graduation they will have the right skills and attributes to make them employable. So, how can graduates improve their employability? And employers also improve on their intake and engagements of graduates.

Employers often desire a consistent core set of skills, independent of degree subjects and institutions trained. The core set includes interactive attributes, communication skills, interpersonal skills and team working-together with personal attributes. Personal attributes include intellect and problem solving, analytic, critical and reflective ability, willingness to learn, flexibility, adaptability and risk taking. An understanding of the world and work culture together with some others are also desirable attributes. Educational results alone are not the only best measures of employment, potential employers say and some graduates admit.

The recent expansion of higher education especially the private has resulted in the greater numbers of students seeking for employment. Similarly the government, private sector and others despite the rising numbers participating in higher education and graduating, the numbers of jobs, employment avenues have not increased. This implies that the expansion in higher education, especially private, ie supplying graduates is keeping pace with the growing demand of the graduates seeking to work in non existent jobs creating this foreseen unemployment problem. Government, private sectors and others, where are the jobs?
Majority of the jobs are not advertised, don’t asked why because it is about choice. Networking is all about building healthy relationships. A lifestyle of connecting and helping people in good and bad times will someday help you find the right job. Others are afraid to be seen and called opportunist, pushy, or self-serving. Tutors, advisors, instructors classmate, career planning and placement centers, networking skills, alumni, friends, family members ,administrators, employers and others can lead you through to your professional or career development life.


Some workers who should have gone on compulsory retirement till date are still loitering around because they used wrong date of birth during their working days, others lobbied to stay a while- are all still in the system pretending to be working simply because retirement does not look promising at all, but preparation to grave. Their children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces are stranded and crying unemployment, they also cry for this group, unemployment, knowing or unaware that they are a part of the cause. One solution is the system should flush out those over-aged out for the productive age group to work. Proper Pension schemes and other welfare packages and benefits be put in place and this will in a short and long term handle some causes of unemployment.

Unemployed graduates today, some few years ago, came from all parts of the country to acquire their higher education in the urban centers. Go and give back to others where you came from especially the rural areas the training acquired by volunteering and attaching with communities, organizations, institutions and others to enhance your resume/curriculum vitae and also expand your horizons, this the employers want.
Higher Institutions should institutionalize students’ attachments and volunteering in the students communities’ and organizations in and around.
Active community involvement and an appreciation of different cultures prepare you to understand complex political, economic, and social forces that affect you and others. This understanding is the basis for good citizenship and encourages good attitudes. This also exposes you to know the ways in which people and cultures are different and how these differences affect world affairs. As a student likely to encounter many cultures in the global labour market, this






knowledge will help you succeed. An employee who can work with, adjust to, and respect people from different backgrounds and cultures is valuable and the choice of every employer.

Graduates who are lifelong learners (individuals who continue to build knowledge and skills as a mechanism for improving their lives and careers, indirectly building their resume) will maintain the kind of flexibility that will enable them to adapt to the demands of the global work shortage. If you analyze what is happening, come up with creative approaches for handling it, and make a practical plan to put your ideas into motion, you can stay on track toward your goals, or; you may decide to shift direction toward a new goal that never occurred to you before the change. Facing change means taking risks. Graduates don’t contribute advertently or otherwise to any problem by creating e.g centralized urban unemployment but solving it with what psychologist Daniel Goleman calls Emotional and Social Intelligence approach.

The impact of the degree subjects of study is important to your employment prospects.
Graduates with teaching skills, nursing, accountants, civil engineering, law, medical students’ agriculture and others are likely to gain employment earlier than their counterparts who studied other subjects. The latest fastest way to get a job irrespective of the subject you read is to become a political commentator or activist and invariably a politician contributing in your own way.
The global economy is moving from a product and service base to a knowledge and talent base and Ghana is not an exception. Jobs of the past are being replaced by knowledge-based, new ones seek critical, analytical and practical employees. Employers employ workers who will think critically and come up with solutions. The mismatch between the skills and knowledge and other attributes of the labour force and those demanded by employers’ causes structural unemployment and must be corrected structurally by the higher institutions and others anyway.
Few employers will like to train and retrain all employees they employ at a given time, they will prefer an alternative. If 10 employees undergo training lasting six months, statistically it will be captured as 5 unemployed and 5 employed, this is verifiable for edification and accuracy.


Ghana is a signatory to the UN Millennium Development Goals which also captures clearly the ILOs Decent Work Agenda, which includes graduates from Ghana of course. How far have we adhered to the following target?
The recognition that employment and decent work are the main route for people to escape poverty led to the inclusion in 2005 of a new MDG Target (1.B) “achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.” Within the UN system, the ILO takes the lead in reporting on trends concerning the achievement of this MDG Target.
The goal of Decent Work for All and the pledges in the Millennium Declaration go hand in hand. The ILO’s Decent Work Agenda, in a context of fair globalization, is essential to the achievement of these shared aims.

All references are dully acknowledged.

Let’s keep the arguments rolling till we reach a solution to the Unemployment situation, also have your say.


By: JOHN NIDJON ASSAN

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