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Why many first class graduates remain jobless, by don

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A frustrated job seeker


The Pro-chancellor and Dean of the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences at the University of Derby, United Kingdom, Prof Kamil Zakariyya’ Omoteso has identified lack of employability and entrepreneurship skills as major reasons many first class graduates cannot secure jobs after graduation.

He noted that at the end of every academic calendar, several Nigerian institutions, from government to privately-run universities produced hundreds of first class graduates but many of them found it difficult to be gainfully employed because they were not equipped with necessary tools that will make them succeed after graduation.

“Some of the tools include short internship/placement during summer breaks and volunteering in relevant organisations. These include supporting students on CV writing, crafting of their personal statements, preparing students for interviews/assessment centre activities, and providing research assistantship opportunities for outstanding students. Institutions should also liaise with employers for life projects to which students can contribute, with dual-supervision.

“One of the key elements we are incorporating into academics in the west is graduate employability. Employability and entrepreneurship skills are really important for students before they leave school. Like someone asked a question that they have got the degree but because they have not got the experience, it is becoming difficult for them to secure jobs.

“This is not going to be so if the university incorporates employability and entrepreneurship skills in its academic curriculum. There would be opportunity for volunteering whereby organisations would liaise with the institutions to take students for internship for three to six months, either before or immediately after their graduation. The experience they have gathered during the period would add to their CVs. It has to be collaboration between “the town and the gown”. That would help them a lot,” he said.Omoteso spoke at the 2019 edition of first class Muslim graduates’ summit held at the Islamic centre of the University of Lagos (UNILAG).

At the event themed, “Pursuing your goal”, were over 79 first class graduates from different universities across the country.
Omoteso recalled that in his days at the University of Lagos, students who graduated with first class were retained and offered jobs as graduate assistants, adding that, “they will use the opportunity to build on their profile and determine whether to stay in academia.”
He called on the government and the Nigerian universities to be serious about the employability of their students, stressing that they are talents that should not be wasting away.

“That is another thing we can do, and of course, the universities can also do that for their students. In the United Kingdom, we guide our students on how to write CV, how to excel at interviews by conducting mock interviews for them, assessment centre activities for them and real experts from the industries come and conduct this for them so that when they are going for interviews or are applying, their chances of getting in would be enhanced.

“If you look at the percentage of the budget that goes into education, it is shameful compared to other sectors and compared to the allocation for education in the budgets of other countries, particularly in the west. We’ve got to take education seriously in terms of policy implementation and that is one of the challenges the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has got with the Federal Government. We have done a little but there is room for improvement,” he added


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