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Graduate unemployment : A game-changing programme

Prof. Agyeman Badu Akosa                                   12,

Ghana has a large pool of unemployed graduates with dwindling prospects with the passage of time, enough to cause the formation of the Unemployed Graduates Association. The formation of the association has been criticised in some quarters as a defeatist strategy but there will always be strength in numbers if it is used for the common good. With the exception of a few professional courses, most of the programmes in our tertiary institutions are purely knowledge-based.

The discussions of our institutions not preparing our students for the job market miss the fundamental issue. Education is only a means to an end and most certainly not an end in itself. It is for employers to train the knowledgeable young persons in the skills they will need in the jobs that they will do. It will appear the employers are not prepared to shoulder that cost and think some other institution must do it for them.

Let us take a student who has graduated with English and Political Science degree. She can read and write and most likely can think logically, systematically and critically. In other words, she can do three-dimensional rather than unidirectional thinking. The student is ready for skills training on how to teach, if teaching is the chosen profession, management in all its different forms and a host of professional programmes. It is unfair for anyone to think that this graduate has not been trained for the job market and, therefore, cannot be employed.

Entrepreneurship

In the absence of decent offers of employment and hitherto trainee programmes, in which companies in Ghana employed fresh graduates from the universities and took them through some training for eventual employment, many have mentioned the word entrepreneurship as if anyone can just pick it up and run with it. Not everyone can be an entrepreneur but everyone can at least try.

There are skills that need to be acquired for any person to begin to formulate ideas, questions that must be answered on the needs of society, communities or individuals that can be translated into sustainable business ideas, the writing of a strategic plan from which short, medium and probably long-term business plans can be extracted, forging partnership to improve compliance, seeking funding sources and the needs of the finance institutions that must be met to be successful and how to present a winnable case and communicate.

Are there any opportunities in Ghana that will offer the unemployed graduate training in any or all of the necessary steps that will enable anybody try their hand at entrepreneurship? There may be a few short courses organised by some institutions or NGOs such as EMPRETEC. I know  the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) offers a BSc programme in Entrepreneurship and I am aware it is in the process of creating incubators to assist some of their students who are prepared to start up along the journey of creating and nurturing a business.

Entrepreneurship Training Institute (ETI) also runs a BSc programme in Entrepreneurship with options in Accounting, Business Management, Business Information Technology, Marketing and Human Resource.

The programmes provide great insight into the world of entrepreneurship and expose the students to the rudiments of entrepreneurship. It provides skills training in how to write strategic, business plans and the institute is also planning to use the business plans from the students to start a competition which could lead to the best joining an incubator programme. Students will be provided with office space and facilities to be able to start work and possibly some assistance in arranging for financial support.

Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship (PGDE)

For the graduate unemployed, ETI offers a two-semester Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship (PGDE). All the essences of entrepreneurship are taught. A student from any programme in the universities and Higher National Diploma (HND) from the polytechnics can apply for the PGDE. The programme includes: Entrepreneurship Management which provides basics for effective small business management, professional management in the growing firm and functional management areas such as human resource, finance, as well as production and operations management. It also helps the student appreciate the need for entrepreneurs to deal with resource allocation in an efficient and effective manner.

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