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Why Majority Of Nigerian University Graduates Are Un-employed

Why Majority of Nigerian University Graduates Are Unemployed

Unemployment, especially among the youths, is a challenge currently facing the country. [font=Lucida Sans Unicode][/font]

Many are unemployed not because there are no jobs but because they do not possess the skills necessary for employment.

While it is true that available jobs cannot go round everyone seeking employment, the reality is that there are many vacant
positions that cannot be filled because there are no suitable candidates.

You need more than university degree to succeed in today’s work place. There is a wide gap between the skills gained through university education and the skills required in the work place.

Employers are looking beyond educational qualifications to make hiring decisions.
You also need more than your degree to be successful in self-employment.

What are employers looking for in job applicants?
A careful scrutiny of employment advertisements will reveal the four critical areas employers assess job applicants:
1. Educational Qualifications
2. Skills
3. Attitudes (Character)
4. Job-related Experience
For graduate or entry-level jobs, job-related experience is mostly de-emphasized because majority of applicants are
deemed not to have previous work experience.

During period of high un-employment, as is currently happening in the country, there are more than enough job applicants that meet the educational requirements.
Among the multitudes that meet the set educational requirements, the criteria to choose remain:

1. Skills
2. Attitudes (Character)

Skills + Attitudes = Employability Skills

What are Employability Skills?

Employability Skills are the skills and attitudes (character) that are required to;
• Gain
• Keep
• .. and become Successful
at work, whether you work for yourself or work for other people.

Many of today’s graduates lack employability skills; hence they are considered to be “unemployable”
From its definition, you need employability skills not only to get the job, but also to hold on to it as well
as work your way up the employment ladder.

You also require the skills to start and run your own successful business.

What Are The Differences Between Educational Qualifications and Employability Skills?

Educational qualifications are also called;
• Hard skills,
• Technical skills,
• Vocational skills,
• Professional skills,
• Specific skills, etc.
They include:
• Law,
• Medicine,
• Engineering,
• Carpentry,
• Fashion Designing,
• Photography,
• Marketing,
• Bead-Making, etc.

They are characterized by being;

• Teachable (can be taught),
• Testable (can be tested by examination),
• Job-specific (they cannot be transferred from one job to another)

Hard skills qualify you to apply for a job but do not guarantee you a placement.
Students and apprentices spend their study time to acquire hard skills.

Employability Skills

Employability skills are also referred to as:
• Soft skills,
• Transferrable skills,
• Life skills,
• People skills,
• Interpersonal skills etc.
They are characterized by not being;
• Teachable- cannot be taught
• Testable- cannot be tested through examination

They are, however, transferrable- can be applied in all jobs, in different industries and at different levels in the organization.

Employability skills are applicable both in professional and personal life.

Though, employability skills are not teachable or testable, their presence or absence can be felt.

They can be acquired through deliberate efforts and practice over a period of time.
Hard and soft skills can be likened to hardware and software in computer terminology.
While hardware can be seen, touched and felt, software cannot be seen, touched or felt.
Hardware cannot function without software. Software is like human blood.
Hard skills have limited usefulness without Soft skills.

Majority of university graduates lack Soft skills.

This is the reason why they are considered to be “unemployable”.

To become employable, they need to work on their Employability (Soft) Skills

It has to be noted that Vocational skills are not the same as soft skills.
Graduates are advised to acquire vocational skills to make them employable.
Bead-making, fashion designing, carpentry etc., are all hard skills.
They also require soft skills to make success out of them.
Acquisitions of vocational skills will only enable graduates have multiple sources of income but will not solve their lack of employability skills.
What are the Employability Skills Necessary For Employment?

The following are some of the employability skills sought by employers, which are considered lacking in most University graduates:

1. Effective Communication Skills

Employers are keen on hiring applicants who can express themselves both orally and in writing. This skill is important to get the job and also to do the job.
A lot of communications go on in the work place with co-workers and customers.
If you are self-employed, you need effective communication skills to sell your products or services. You need to write proposals and make presentations to prospective customers to convince them to buy your product or service.
You need effective writing skills to craft compelling CV and covering letter to be invited for job interview.
When you get interview invite, you need good oral communication skills to sell yourself.
Many applicants get disqualified at application stage as a result of poorly and badly written CV. CV with grammatical and spelling mistakes is destined for the waste paper basket.
A lot about you and your character can be deduced from your CV and covering letter even before the prospective employer meets you.
Majority of university graduates lack effective communication skills. The advent of social media has worsened the situation.
Effective communication also includes;
• Effective listening skills,
• Presentation skills,
• Questioning skills
• Avoiding barrier to communication.
For communication to be effective, it must follow the 7Cs of communication. It must be:
Clear, Correct, Complete, Concise, Considerate, Coherent and Courteous.

2 IT/Computer Skills

This is the ability to effectively use computer and its associated technologies. Most organizations employ computer to run their businesses efficiently to save cost and be more productive.

Employers expect their applicants to be comfortable with the use of the common office productivity tools such as;
• Microsoft Word,
• Microsoft PowerPoint,
• Microsoft Excel
• Business Emailing.
Computer literacy also includes ability to operate office automation devices such as;
Photocopy Machine, Multimedia Projector, Fax Machine etc.
Again, depending on the applicant’s field of study, he/she is expected to possess additional skills in the use of computer software packages and devices in their industry.
• Accounting graduates are expected to be familiar with the use of at least one of the common
accounting software packages- QuickBooks, Peachtree, Sage, etc

• Medical graduates – Telemedicine software and Vital Sign Measuring Devices

• IT/Computer Science graduates-Ability to use at least two or more modern computer programming languages
e.g HTML, JavaScript, C++, C#, PHP, etc
• Engineering graduates- Computer Aided Design (CAD) software

IT/Computer skills go beyond ability to browse the Internet and use of social networking.
Graduates who still rely on business centers to prepare their CV cannot claim to be computer literate.

3 Problem Solving Skills

This is the ability to find solution to problems.
Organizations solve problems to earn their income. Employers are looking for problem-solvers and not salary earners.
Problem-solving is in the heart of all businesses. If you want to run a successful self-employment, you must find solution to problems which others are willing to pay for.
Think of any successful business, you’ll discover that it is providing solution to human problem (need) through service or product.
Businesses are setup to meet human needs. Maslow’s theory of human needs range from physiological needs, at the lower level, to self-actualization at the highest level.
Businesses are set up to meet needs at each level of needs.
Facebook and other social networking sites are setup to meet desire for ‘love’ and ‘belongingness’ needs of humans.
Hospitals, schools, telecommunication companies etc provide services that meet the needs others are willing to pay for.
Applicants who can come up with ideas that can generate income for their organizations are those that can get employment.

4 Team-working Skills

Team-working skills are the ability to work with others in a professional manner to achieve organizational goal.
Today’s work environment requires that you work with others in a team. You must demonstrate that you can work well with others with diverse views and culture to achieve set goals.

You must exhibit positive group attitudes that reinforce your ability to forge alliance. These include:
• Willingness to share time and talents
• Readiness to compromise personal views to reach consensus
• Being humble and not arrogant
• Willingness to listen to others view
• Willingness to help others to achieve
• Being reliable and consistent always
• Willingness to contribute without being domineering

T =Together E=Everyone A=Achieve M=More;
“Together Everyone Achieve More”, emphasizes the importance of team work in the workplace.

5 Planning and Organizing Skills

Planning is the process of enumerating the tasks and resources needed to achieve a set goal.
Organizing is the process of managing and implementing the tasks and resources needed to achieve a set goal
Planning and Organizing go hand-in-hand.
Planning involves;
• Goal setting
• Enumerating tasks and resources needed to reach the goal
Organizing involves;
• Prioritizing
• Scheduling
• Implementation
Planning is important in all aspects of life to ensure achievement of desired result.
Time is one of the resources required to achieve set goals and because it is limited it has to be properly managed. Time Management is always linked with planning and organizing.
As a graduate employee, you are more than likely to be given multiple assignments at the same time and for you to meet deadlines; you must be a good time manager.
The 6Ps of planning:
Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
You must demonstrate that you can identify tasks and resources required to meet goals and prioritize tasks to achieve much in a given time. Time is money.
Time management is often specified as one of the requirements in job advertisements.

6 Initiative and Enterprise Skills

This is the ability to work with minimal supervision. Initiative is when you are able to do the right thing at the right time without being told.
Enterprise is the ability to spot opportunity when others could not and taking steps and risks to actualize its implementation.
Individuals with initiative and enterprising skills seek better ways to do things for improved effectiveness and efficiency. They are responsible for the continuous improvements in the socio-economic lives of humans over time. They come up with products and services that make life easy.

7 Numeracy Skills

Numeracy is the ability to use numbers.
Numbers are the language of business. You need numeracy skill no matter what your position or job is. Employers are interested in applicants who are comfortable with the use of numbers.
While you do not have to be a mathematician, you should be familiar with basic arithmetic operations such as:
• Addition,
• Subtraction,
• Multiplication,
• Percentages
• Interpretation of graphs,
• Understanding trends in data,
• Currency conversion,
• Discounts,
• Shapes and geometry etc.
Numbers are used on daily basis both in personal and work environments.
No matter how good your product or service is, if you cannot manage the money your business makes, you cannot go far.
People with poor numeracy skills suffer a lot of employment and business related disadvantages. They earn far less with limited opportunities than their numerate counterparts.
Innumerate people are not able to compete effectively in the work place. Employers are keen to hire numerate applicants because the will be able to contribute to their bottom-line.

8 Financial Literacy Skills

Financial literacy skills are the skills needed to manage your personal finances to guarantee life-long financial independence. They include the knowledge how:
• Money is made
• It is saved
• It is invested to multiply
• To budget and live within your means
• To take appropriate insurance (to mitigate against life’s risks)
• To use money to assist others.
Financial literacy skills are different from numeracy skills; not all numerate individuals are financially literate. Employers are keen to hire financially literate applicants because they are considered to be more productive than their illiterate counterparts.
Financially illiterate employees are always bogged down with money issues which often distract them from their jobs. They go into debts, borrow money from colleagues and take salary advance. They spend a lot of time on phone resolving money issues which makes them less productive.

9 Commercial Awareness (Business Awareness) Skills

Commercial awareness is the ability to know what makes a business or organization successful. It is one of the key employability skills employers are looking for. They want their applicants to have ‘business sense’.
Commercial awareness skill includes ability to understand a company’s:
• Products and Services
• The industry it belongs
• Its competitors
• Its customers and suppliers
• The Political and Economic environments in which it operates
• Its Legal environment
• Its expansion plans
• Its position in the industry
Another way to demonstrate commercial awareness is the understanding of the importance of cost-effectiveness, efficiency and customer care as factors affecting the success of organizations.
Your prospective organization expects you to understand the role of the position you are applying for.
While it is not possible to become commercially aware overnight, there are many ways to acquire the skill through deliberate efforts:
• Reading up about your prospective company on its website
• Listening to business programs on TV or Radio
• Through internship, part-time job or volunteering activities
• Partaking in extra-curricular activities
• Through community development activities
• Belonging to social and business associations

10 Attitudes (Character)

In addition to your educational qualifications and skills, employers are interested in personal attitudes which have direct bearing on job-performance.

You are assessed based on your level of positive attitudes. The following attributes are considered necessary for optimum job performance:
• Punctuality
• Honesty/Integrity
• Perseverance
• Flexibility/Adaptability
• Positive attitude to work
• Dedication
• Affirmative
• Tolerant
• People Skill
• Commitment
• People Skills
• Creative/Innovative
• Organized
• Responsibility/Dependability
• Well groomed

The various stages in the interview process sre designed to test the skills and the attitudes needed in each job.
It is not enough to claim in your CV or covering letter that you have those skills and attitudes but you must be prepared to provide evidence that you have put them into use and obtain the desired results.

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