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Feature Article of Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Columnist: Forson, Paa Kwesi

UN Employment

Finishing SSS was a story with a happy ending for most people because it was an emancipation day to exit the snare of terrible headmasters, no-nonsense teachers, almighty SSCE and anything to do with WAEC or WASSCE. At this stage, all that matters is coming home and announcing your presence to the old folks and under-privileged JHS buddies who now think you've improved so much (don't get me wrong).

If you pass with distinction by the time your result is released, then Glory be to God in the highest. Even with that one, you should pray hard the tertiary institution of your choice offers you admission to read a course you're passionate about. But if you are like those who struggled to make a D7s and F9s in almost all their subjects, then I guess you know the story better than I do. It's either you find yourself a job to keep busy, enroll in a remedial school, or stay at home to receive the ever refreshing insults from your dad, mum and your younger ones.

Back to reality zone. It's only normal that an SSS graduate who gains admission into the university, makes the best grades to win laurels during Congregation, endures National 'Suffering' at a prestigious company, and gets a reliable job afterwards.

Talking about National Service, I'll share a little observation I took for granted about 'government' work and why the whole system is such a big mess. A senior colleague at the department I was posted to for my service called me one Monday morning and told me something that I can hardly categorize as a proverb, friendly advice, a verbal query, etc.; he was like, "Young man, you May be Talented BUT you are NOT IRREPLACEABLE around here... Think about it careful before you kill yourself with work in your first year". I had no clue how all these words applied to my life. But I thought to myself, "of course he doesn't want me to lazy about. Does he?" After nine months, service was all over but wahala begun.

Life after National Service was not always rosy like you expect it to be. Some times, you'll finish national service as a qualified and jobless professional who is left with no choice than to invest all of your NSS Allowance transporting yourself to the cafe to apply for jobs desperately within a wide range of fields on businessghana.com or attending a compendium of fruitless job interviews somewhere in town. Let me try my hands on the job application thing. Anytime I review the requirements of prospective employers for any particular job in the papers or online, I never get frightened I may not qualified for the job. Rather, I tend to laugh out loud based on my experience with the technicalities employers use to disqualify applicants.

Anytime you see a sentence like: • Candidate should have worked in similar position for at least 3 years (I only have one-year experience). • Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted (it's only normal). • A Degree in (fill in the blank) will be an advantage (what should Diploma graduates do?). • Candidate should live around (fill in the blank). and • Preferably (fe)male applicants should apply (what should the other gender do?). 'When it's coming then it's doing'...

There is another grey area called "To Whom You Know" or "Who Knows You" reality that I don't want to go into just yet. Because it is for this same reason that some qualified applicants are still in the house and some average students are gainfully employed in positions they shouldn't be. Like I said earlier, let me terminate this point before I receive a severe bashing from some beneficiaries I know personally.

When you survive these hardships by staying at home during 'working hours' like an SSS graduand who is battling remedial for the forth time, know for sure that your troubles are just beginning. Here comes the real test of your patience and endurance for better things to come. If you are not strong enough, you may commit suicide or go on voluntary exile for a very very long time.

For some time now, I've decided to ignore so many people in my neighborhood (no good mornings, no lengthy talks) for a good reason. Each time I greet any elderly person in my community, their first response is to ask me a difficult or an embarrassing question. What do they expect when they ask me, "so what have you been up to lately..." or "today you are back from work so early, I hope all is well"? Don't even try to be smart by giving answers to satisfy their curiosity or to gain their sympathy (which one comes first) because your examiners always know the answer.

Each time your critics ask you that funny question again, just tell them in the face that you are a Self-employed Business (wo)man or UN Employed... As simply as A. B. C.

But on a more serious note, all is well with your soul even if you don't believe. If you doubt me, ask God why He spared your life from death and took that man or woman in your neighborhood instead. Paa Kwesi Forson cbforson@gmail.com

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