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Graduates failing to find jobs they studied for

by Rodney Pienaar

 As the country’s biggest tertiary institution, University of Namibia, churned out its graduates last week at two events filled with pomp and fanfare, the reality is that more graduates continue to fail securing jobs in fields they studied for, researchers have observed.   

A tracer study conducted on graduates from Unam and the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) shows that 60% of NUST graduates have taken up jobs that are not linked to their studies and 27% said they have not found employment closely related to what they had studied. 

“There is a need to make sure that graduates are employed in the areas where they are trained to be in,” researcher, Tuyeni Kandume said at a public dialogue of unemployed university graduates held in Windhoek. 

 The study highlights that 11.7% of graduates from Unam who had completed their respective courses, have not landed any jobs while 14.4% from NUST have not found employment in the fields of public administration, social security, tourism and other commercial services.

An estimated 24% of graduates said they have had better prospects in jobs which are not related to what they had studied. 

“This shows misdirected priorities and a lack of career guidance at junior and secondary level,” said the researcher. 

Kandume also said that gender policies that address issues affecting male and female youth when it comes to employment and unemployment should be strongly revised. 

“The findings of this study show females have a higher rate of unemployment than men. Namibia needs to know what skills are needed by identifying the gap between the labour market and the supply of skills. This means that the country needs to conduct a skills audit in order to have a basic idea on what skills are currently on the market and what the market actually needs,” she said. 

She added that a skills audit may inform on this and give direction on how Namibia can begin to identify the gaps and how to address them. 

Kandume advised unemployed graduates to note that although education credentials are significant to secure employment, education on its own does not suffice to meet skills requirements. 

“It is vital that during their pursuit for employment graduates pro-actively commit their time and efforts into understanding the country’s job market in order to identify industries and services on demand in order to avoid a continued rise in the skills-mismatch incidence within the country,” she said.

She added that although it has been recommended that the government ought to produce a conducive environment to improve the integration of new entrants into the job market, it is also vital that graduates strive to either create demand where it is in shortage or strategically diversify their skill-sets with vocational training.