By Mohammed Salue Sy
The persistent commencement convocations of many tertiary institutions annually in Liberia have become inevitable regardless of the prevailing huge level of unemployment. The myriad commencement ceremonies by those tertiary schools of post war Liberia must be cross examined with keen attention to know its essence. Before expanding this article at length with the relevant information let me distinctly underscore three key terms of the phrase “The proliferation of Thousands of Graduates Amidst massive Unemployment”
Proliferation –means growth by the rapid multiplication of parts. A swift increase in number. Once more, graduate as a noun refers to a person who has received a degree from a school. While the diction unemployment in term of an economic stance point is defined as a situation where some people who fall within the ages of the labor force ,capable and willing to work are not able to gain befitting work to do. With explanations of these terms, I am duty bound and beholden to juxtapose employment and unemployment rate due to its relevance of the subject matter under scrutiny. An unemployment rate is the percentage of the working population which is not employed at any given point in time.
Proceeding to Liberia as an exceptional case study with the proliferation of so many graduates without employment is extremely alarming. The nation highest institution of learning conjugated with other universities as Cuttington university College, the United Methodist University, the African Methodist Episcopal University, African Methodist Episcopal Zion University are moving very high with respect of graduating hundreds of students in many disciplines. Graduates of these universities are doubling, quadrupling each year amidst the huge jobless growth. Facing challenges of getting jobs, pursuing Master’s degrees and making meaningful contributions towards the nation building process are gradually becoming chronic in the society. Analyses of graduation commencements have postulated to us that there are nearly ten thousands graduates per year. Holding constant statistics from the December 2015 convocation of the university of Liberia shows over 1750 graduates in respective courses as the business college dominates with over one thousand students. The September 2015 Cuttington Fifty fourth commencement program also put out 554 graduates as Business College topped the day with 91 students and above all in most time was the united Methodist University graduation which featured 592 students. A total of over three thousands students in three months period from September to December.
There are still no jobs available for these young graduates many of whom are now peddling ,roaming and hustling .Then, What is the essence of graduation upon the approximately four million under population constituting of 195,000 paid employment positions. The other 850,000 which comprises primarily of the youthful population that are self-employed. In appendage to that with close reference to the Liberia’s labor force survey only 1.1 million Liberians of the nearly 4.0 million populations are counted as employed in Liberia. These graduates from diverse universities are strongly anticipated to be the next leaders of generation to come. But are these graduates prepared to captain the ship properly when they are still finding it challenging to have professional jobs. Education without job experience is meaningless to our national growth .The essence of graduation is to enhance graduates to give back to the society. To allow them practicalize what they have learnt over the past four to six years.
Employment only triumphs over jobless growth if national government and local nongovernmental organizations prioritize its own people as first preference.
Liberia is richly endowed with abundant resources viz gold, diamond, timber, oil, rubber, iron ore unlike the Gambia and ivory Coast that relies heavily on ground nuts and coffee respectively and yet there are job opportunities for the universities’ graduates. Multimillion dollars companies like Arcelor Metal, Western Cluster, Liberia Agriculture Company, Chevron, Chico, Firestone and least to mention our own government agencies should be giant employers to graduates so as to prompt economic development instead of just economic growth. Economic growth which is the quantitative increase in the country output and input of goods and services can only yield economic development which is the qualitative and quantitative increase in goods and services if the nation prioritizes those graduates who have divergent expertise to bring to the table. One of the most common types of unemployment confronting us as a recovering nation is under-employment. Under this type, Mental and financial unemployment is very ordinary before our sight. Mental under-employment is when there is a mismatch between the work a person is doing and what he studied. Financial –underemployment occurs when the worker is not getting equal pay from the work he is doing.
Looking at such unfolding situation that we are engulfed with as a common denominator must not be taken lightly if economic development is our goal. Liberia present Gross domestic product is two billion and gross domestic per capital is us $513 thus making us amongst the first five poorest countries in the world. This speaks volume that to perk up our collapsed economy there should be creation of jobs for graduates. Unfortunately, former students of these universities are cacophonously dubbed as marketers, push-push boys, hawker, hustlers, petit traders, hustlers, etc. Such traits have made it difficult to easily distinguish a man of BSc to that of a non-BSc man .How long must the graduates wait to accelerate their vehicles towards the building process of Liberia? Graduates with certain grade point averages must be engrossed by the government upon graduation. Sponsoring them to pursue master’s degrees in key areas such as Medicine, Engineering, Mining, Mathematics, Econometrics, Cardiology, Pathology, information Technology, etc. Sources of employment do not necessarily have to be government.
The effects of Unemployment upon Universities’ Graduates
As there goes the aphorism “idle minds is the devil Workshop “and as a result, mass `exodus of graduates without jobs are likely to involve in heinous crimes as currency trafficking, drug addiction, prostitution and so forth. Besides that, graduates experiencing jobless growth are potential tools for political chaos as well as ramble rabble-rousers and threat to peace .These graduates without jobs are bad influence to the school going children owing to the fact that they are likely to sustain a venomous debate that education in Liberia is not important all because of being unemployed. More besides, as these graduates continue to sit supinely for so many years in the absence of employment, the value of their degrees will be diminishing as they are ageing too. Degrees holder in our country without employment delays the development of the nation. It leads to vast spending of Millions of dollars by national government to hire and import foreign bureaucrats.
Insofar as these are some key effects on graduates lacking access to employment opportunities, I harbor no doubt that recommendations of these can assist us as an under-developed nation to tackle the problems of graduates ‘employment.
1 Investment in Private and Public Sectors-increase in government and private expenditures creates jobs.
2. Privatization - as an economic method is an approach to shift government ownership of public corporations, industries, companies, etc. to private enterprises, thereby inviting individuals to have broad base participation
3. Recruitment of Graduates by Multimillion Dollars Companies in Liberia Must Be Mandated by Government
Graduates who had excelled during their college sojourn must be employed immediately upon their graduation from university. Such obligatory recruitment by companies like Metal Steel, Western Cluster can help to reduce unemployment in the corridor. Before graduates can be recruited by those companies as a mandate by national government, internships should be provided to them a year prior to graduation to give them an experience about the jobs.
4. Competitive Bidding of Local and International scholarships
While it is true that all college’s graduates cannot be of the same status despite of the same degree as commonality amongst them, multitude of those graduates are decidedly desirous of wanting to study abroad must be afforded the opportunity publicly to apply for those scholarships through a competitive bidding process. Those successful candidates must be awarded the scholarship to go out for study. With such an advantage enabling those recipients to return back with brand new baggage of ideas and innovation to create jobs for their other colleagues. Let us remember the dictum that says” With education comes innovation”
Finally, the nonstop discourse of unemployment that graduates are plagued with can be solved amicably if these recommendations are taken seriously. While it is true that by 2030 Liberia is anticipated to be a Middle Income state, the provision of Job opportunities can facilitate them to be staunch economic drivers of our recovering economy that is heavily dependent on the extractive industry principally as iron ore leads all other exports at fifty five percent.
About the Author: Mohammed Salue Sy can be reached at: Cell: 0770339302/0880583208, Email:Mohammedsy952@gmail.com