The link https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/are-graduates-unemployable-the-answer-is-no/ that implies that State University Graduates are in fact employable, but that the Private and Public Sector do not have a proper training mechanism for placing them in the right jobs is the point that drew me to the subject. The writer of that article is a Professor of Management at Peradeniya and is therefore justifying his position as the criticism otherwise reflects badly on him, that Universities do not do their share in providing employable graduates.
He goes on to use the example that all graduates who go overseas are able to find jobs, follow postgraduate courses, where as within the Country they are considered unemployable, how come!
I deal with Graduates from State Universities almost on a daily basis advising them on the methods to be adopted in their job search and my conclusion is as follows, Professor, the graduates are only cut, they are neither finished nor are they polished. Those who go overseas, are the ones able to do the finishing themselves, the most dynamic and enterprising of our graduates. Put simply, they are potentially the most productive, with goals and ambitions.
They need leadership training, not the kind that they undergo at the moment before getting into starting their courses, but more on who they are, building the values of citizenry, goals, tools to achieve them, and mentoring. They have no clue what they want when they start looking for a job. Why should I be the social worker trying to impart that skill in a few one on one meetings and motivation sessions?
How about a career guidance department at all universities to guide students in thinking about their futures from the time they join the University, in much the same way I was fortunate in being able to use the resources of Bristol University in the mid 1970s when I was an undergraduate there. I was coached and trained in interview techniques, employers were allowed to hold recruitment sessions, and by the time I graduated, I had a job offer, and was in work soon after leaving University. I know it is a little tougher today, as the job market is arguably more competitive there as it is here, and so the effort must be greater. Universities in Sri Lanka have a DUTY to the Undergraduates to guide them on seriously evaluating their options, as time is precious when young and not to be wasted waiting for a job to fall on their proverbial laps!!
In Sri Lanka there are thousands of vacancies for graduates and not sufficiently qualified applicants for them. It is no use to say that it is the task of the employer to take them on and give them the training. Of course that is what they do once they recruit them, but as you say, only to polish them. The finishing must be done at the University and contrary to your assertion you don’t do that. The raw graduates are so unimpressive its not funny. Only the most capable who go on and do their own finishing before getting a job locally or overseas due to their own special qualities of maturity, and knowledge of what they currently lack.
This is a very serious issue, and we must not get into an argument with the faculty, as WE MUST BE ON THE SAME PAGE to help our youth face the future with hope, and imagination, open to all the possibilities.
I am in favor of having leadership development training sessions in three points in a student’s life. Immediately upon completing one’s A levels as it frees the Student’s mind from studies. A week of two outward bound course would be the best with some group discussions and seminars, under trees, and not in classrooms, to open one’s mind to the world around them.
Secondly upon entry into a tertiary course, a two day in house course at the place of learning itself at the main lecture hall of that institution if there is one to stress the importance of the course, University or Vocational and Thirdly at the completion of the course for another one week of team building to know that if one is to work successfully in employment be it, self employment or in some organization, one has to learn to communicate, interact and put aside one’s prejudices in the overall life goals one sets oneself and how that will secure their future either in one career or many careers in their lifetime.
It is time that Sri Lankans realize that on average they may have 5 different employers in their lifetime, and some of it may even be self employment and we must forewarn them on the possibilities and expectations, based on future demographic expectations, and likely developments on new avenues and fields of employment depending on the Nation’s strategy. All this will arm our youth to face the uncertain future with determination, and without any fear. No one or body at present takes upon this role, and most parents are unable to impart this to their offspring so a structured route which is unlikely to cost much is the answer to this much debated issue. It is a worldwide phenomenon and not just isolated to Sri Lanka. So if we are able to give our smart youth this very important leg up they will be grateful to the vision we have created for them.