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So much that needs to change!

Jun 14,2019 - Last updated at Jun 14,2019

For some time now, we have been aware of the importance of education for employment.

Traditionally, the matter did not figure explicitly in our educational literature, be it at the school or university levels.

It was taken for granted that school and university graduates would be employed.

And most of the time, they were.

As of the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, when job opportunities in both the national and regional markets started becoming less abundant, we began to be more conscious of the matter, and to worry.

Additionally, steps were taken here and there in an attempt to address the matter: some at the level of discourse or policy, and some at the level of action.

Nevertheless, it would be safe to state, I believe, that until now, we have not tackled the matter as seriously and as effectively as we should.

By way of exercise, I looked at the vision and mission statements of our ministries of education and higher education, as well as those of several of our universities, and found very few of them stating “employment” explicitly.

Most either ignore the matter entirely, or implicitly and indirectly hint at it.

At the level of actual subjects taught at school, and courses and programmes offered at university, there have been some minor changes and modifications but never anything major, with employment as a goal, that is.

Take also the following facts:

Unemployment among fresh and recent school and university graduates is at a record high.

The public sector, which for decades was a major employer, is unable to absorb most graduates. As a matter of fact, it is almost saturated.

Opportunities in the private sector are very competitive, and there is more supply than demand.

The regional markets are open, but our graduates have to compete with the best and the brightest in the globe.

The skill gap among most of our graduates is also a real issue.

In light of all of this, and much more, we need to zero in on the matter of employment as we have never done before.

We need to rethink, restrategise and restructure, on the one hand, and offer education that prioritises employment and that is fully aligned with job placement, on the other.

Our mission, vision and value statements should change to accommodate the huge shifts around and ahead of us, but our subjects taught, courses offered and programmes obtained should be fully in tune with the times.

Our slogans and mottos should change, but so should our approaches and the substance of what we do. 

There is so much that needs to change to empower our school and university graduates.

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