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Opinions of Saturday, 27 February 2016

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi. Kwaku

Why so many unemployed and underemployed graduates In Ghana?

From Voice of Reason.

The average young Ghanaian college graduate is not ready to make a living in an old-fashioned way and I’ll tell you why…..There is a general inclination among most of these young people to perform just as little service as they can get by with.
“The best way to create wealth or job is to add value to the lives of consumers: customers, your boss, your friends, your employers, employees, strangers and even your family members” -- Dan Kennedy

Are we getting the ‘right graduates’, from our universities and colleges who can find solutions to our emerging problems, so as to live up to our potentials?
Have you ever thought about the reasons behind the huge amount of underemployed and unemployed college graduates in Ghana?

Well, don’t go anywhere yet! I have some news for you but, you’re not going to like it—I know! Have your seat belt on because I am about to take you for a joy ride around the block.
Folks, it’s all about basic economics. When people insist on specializing in a field for which there is little demand, their investment has been a waste of scare national resources that could have produced something else that others wanted. The low pay and sparse employment opportunities in that field are a compelling signal to them—and to others coming after them—to stop making such investment—but that is not the case in our part of the world, where we need an urgent solutions to some of common socioeconomic emerging problems. That makes the value of formal schooling exaggerated and counterproductive in some cases in Ghana.

Don’t get me wrong. Education has of course made major contributions to economic development in Ghana. But this is not to say that all kinds of education have given us any dividend. From economic standpoint, some education has great value, some have no value to the national development, and some can even have a negative value. And that is the cause for concern.

While it is easy to understand the great value or specific skills in medical science or engineering, for example, or the more general foundation for a number of professions provided by mathematics or a command of English language, other subjects such as literature or history make no pretense of producing marketable skills but are available for whatever they may contribute in other ways.

In a developing country like ours, where education or higher levels of education are new, those who have obtained diplomas or degrees may feel that many kinds of work are now beneath them. That is why some of our engineers prefer the desk job to standing in the mud in hip boot at a construction site. Also, depending on what they have studied, the newly educated may have higher expectations than they have higher levels of ability to create the wealth from which their expectations can be met.
In some cases, the problem multiplies when those who are the first members of their respective families to reach higher education typically do not study difficult and demanding subjects like science, medicine, or engineering, but instead tend toward easier and fuzzier subjects which provide them with little in the way of marketable skills,which is to say, skills that can create prosperity for themselves or their country.

The Causes and effects of unemployment and Underemployment in Ghana:
The large numbers of young people with schooling in Ghana, but without economically meaningful skills, have produced much huge unemployment and underemployment in the country. Since the marketplace has little to offer such people that would be commensurate with their expectations, the national government has created swollen bureaucracies to hire them, in order to neutralize their potential for political disaffections, civil unrest or insurrection. Do Ghana civil- service employees ring a bell? What about Ghana police service? Ooops!!!

In turn, these bureaucracies and the voluminous and time –consuming red tape they generate have become obstacles to employment creation and economic development of the country ,and to others who do have the skills, money and entrepreneurship needed to contribute to the country’s economic advancement. If you don’t believe me find out how long it takes to register a vehicle in Ghana. How long does it take to register a company? What about clearing goods at our harbors? Did I forget the passport office? Building permit—don’t even go there! The list is long, but I know you get my points. This also creates incurable syndrome of bribery and corruption.
The point is Jobs can’t be created for the unemployed and underemployed graduates when the government keeps creating huge pool of bureaucracies in every level of the economy; to block any business take-off.

Another reason why there are no jobs is lack of “superb customer service” in the Ghanaian culture. And without customer satisfaction we cannot create jobs. Earl Nightingale once said, “All the money you are ever going to have is currently in the hands of someone else. And the chance of you ever creating any job is going to be controlled and dictated by someone else” In business, we call that ‘someone else’ the “customers”.
They have the money. They share it with us when we serve them well. And one of the best ways to serve your customers well is by listening to them and treating them like your “special guests”. You might be saying you don’t have customers, but we all have customers— except blood donors—but, they too now have customers. You might not call them customers, but you still have them even if you just graduated from college. You might call them patients, clients, co-workers, readers, spectators, students, parents, employers or the audience. When customers are happy they come back and employers hire more people to meet their customers’ needs.

In the private sector, Customers determine when to hire new employees or fire them. Customers determine when to buy more raw materials and build more factories and warehouses. Customers (students) determine when to build more classrooms and hire more teachers. So if we want more job creation we need to start listening to our customers and treat them like kings and queens. Until we see this simple fact, there will be no jobs in Ghana for our graduates for a long, long time.

For years our college graduates have been bombarded with ‘Knowledge is power’ mumbo- jumbo. They have been tricked to believe that all they need is ‘knowledge’ and everything else will be alright. But, in reality knowledge is not power. It’s the implementation or application of knowledge that is power. It’s no more what you know that matters; it’s what you do with what you know that matters. Knowledge alone will not fix anything. We have all the knowledge, but we slept in dumsor. We have all the knowledge but look at our roads and schools. Knowledge alone can’t feed you and your family. It takes effort. It doesn’t always take a lot of effort—but it takes at least some effort back by vision to change things around. The stories of college dropout billionaires abound and they did in an old-fashioned way---they earned it.
And, remember, too, that all who succeed in life get off to a bad start, and- pass through many heartbreaking struggles before they arrive.
And while we’re at it we should do more than we’re paid to do. Going extra mile in everything you do can open a lot of closed doors for you in business as well as in social life. By rendering more and better services than that for which you are paid, you will be turning the spotlight of favorable attention upon yourself, and it will not be long before you will be sought with impressive offers for your services, and there will be a continuous market for those services. By doing that you are taking advantage of the Law of Increasing Returns, through the operation of which you will eventually be paid, in one way or another, for far more service than you actually perform. It doesn’t matter if your services are not appreciated or recognized by selfish individuals. If you don’t believe me just try it on your job and even on your relationship. It works all the time. You can’t go wrong with this one, trust me! Do more than you’re required to do and watch the results. You will be amazed!

In order to increase employment rate in Ghana for our college graduates, the government needs to create business-friendly ecology to encourage skilled entrepreneurs to create jobs. And for the employers to retain employees, the future workforce in Ghana needs to know something about the new world economic order. If you want to make sure you are in line for every good thing your company or (employer) has to offer, then become invaluable and know these facts:

a) Be the smartest person in the company about the products and services your company offers.
b) Know more about the competition and marketplace than anyone else.
C) Get there first and leave last.
d) Do the things no one wants to do for your employers.
e) Work fast, and learn to make decisions quickly.
f) Take personal responsibility and never whine.
g) Become known as a person who gets things done and do more than is expected of you.
h) Get the results.
In other words, if you want job security you have to become the employee that your company can’t live without. Become the person your customers can’t live without. Become a person your company, your boss, your coworkers, and your customers can count on, need, and want to have around. As service- provider employees how much do you know about your customers? Their dates of birth and children’s names? .Oh yeah you should because your pay- check comes from them; so stop treating them like you’re doing them a favor when you’re attending to them or when they come to your office.
To solve this problem of unemployment, college of entrepreneurship must be added to the existing institutions in the country to create people who have enormously valuable knowledge and insights to create marketable skills and jobs for our graduates and unemployed population.
Every student from senior secondary school to university must be required to take entrepreneurship course as an elective subject and also study the kwahus’ business savvy model and their entrepreneurial prowess. Perhaps they hold the key to entrepreneurial skills that the rest of us need in order to succeed in business and create real jobs.
Also, our college students should be required to take internship in the first year to gauge if they really like the course they’re studying .This will prevent the huge underemployment rate in Ghana among college graduates. Many education experts estimate that over fifty percent Ghanaian college graduates end up working in areas other than the one for which they hold a degree .That means they end up completing a degree only to find out they don’t really like working in that area they enjoyed studying.
These ideas are not panacea but, I’m sure they can solve some of our unemployment problems in the country.

Are you offended? Grow up and chill out. I’m just trying to call it as I see it because government doesn’t create jobs—it can only create the environment where jobs can be created by individuals.

Until we meet here again, be blessed, educated and informed.

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi (voice of Reason)
Asuom, kwaebibirim district.