By Simon J. Mone
For many young people, graduating from schools, colleges and universities is an accomplishment of one phase of life.
The daunting task of finding an occupation is where graduates usually face challenges.
Having spent loads of money in the course of studies, there is always pressure to start recouping some of it with well paying jobs. This is increasingly becoming difficult, owing to many factors. An important one from employers’ view point is graduates’ limited hands-on skills to duly perform practical job assignments.
A handful of graduates have been lucky and have had mentors around to help them learn practical skills while on the job. Majority has not been fortunate. They have had to go on the job search without assistance, moving from employer to employer trying to sell their CVs in order to attract interest. Competition makes it even harder. The current lack of direct linkage between universities, colleges, tertiary institutions and the industry makes job search a gamble.
Thousands of young graduates are not being helped at this stage. No such continuity like pupils, who, upon completing Primary Leaving Examination (PLE), find their names, pinned on senior one notice board of their chosen schools. Similarly, on finishing Uganda Certificate of Edudaction (UCE) students easily get admitted to senior five at schools of their choices.
Thanks to the clear continuity of transition from PLE through UCE to UACE, university and tertiary institutions. There seems to be a smoother ride. For graduates, who come out of universities and tertiary institutions, many pause to ask the question about the next direction to take.
Since answers are not readily available, a lot of young people get lost in this dilemma, considering the competition from many institutions that are also churning out thousands of graduates with the same degrees yearly. We can solve this problem by encouraging both public and private employers to create apprenticeship departments to take on fresh graduates.
Having foundation qualifications degrees gives graduates the aptitude to learn quickly and perform well granted the opportunity to demonstrate the skills attained from the lecture room. Providing such graduates with apprenticeship will go a long way in bridging the gap that clearly exists between the university and industry.
Apprenticeship approach enables graduates to learn occupational skills that can propel them to achieve career success that they crave for. Upon getting placement, beginners are immediately put on an apprenticeship programme, which allows them to work under the supervision of a mentor. Mentors being senior members monitor trainees’ progress and output until the time they deem the trainee has demonstrated required levels of proficiency. After which they are slowly absorbed in the organisation.
Through apprenticeship, new workers are able to learn not only relevant occupational skills but also other work-related skills, including communication, problem-solving, allocation of resources, and ethical behaviour among co-workers and the public. After completion of apprenticeship, trainees should be awarded with a credential confirming their ability to practice on-the-job skills necessary in relevant occupations.
Close monitoring and frequent feedback provided by organisation’s mentor helps apprentices correct mistakes and keep their focus on outputting desired work results. Let private and public sector create budgets for apprenticeship schemes to help integrate new potential workers. Doing this will ease the unemployment burden in the country.
It is sad to see senior statesmen being let to retire with all the knowledge and skills that could be passed on to the next generation of citizens through a fully fledged apprenticeship programme for graduates.
The writer is a civil engineer