The Pro-Chancellor and Dean of the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences at the University of Derby, United Kingdom, Professor Kamil Zakariyya’ Omoteso, has said lack of employability and entrepreneurship skills are among the major reasons many first class graduates couldn’t secure jobs after graduation.
Prof Omoteso made the disclosure at the 2019 edition of First Class Muslim Graduates’ summit held over the weekend at the Islamic Centre of the University of Lagos, Southwest, Nigeria, with the theme, “Pursuing your Goal”.
No fewer than 79 first class graduates of 2017-2019 academic sessions from different universities defied the heavy rains to attend the event that had in attendance vibrant academics and captains of industries.
Muslim News’ findings revealed 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 secure jobs years after graduation.
Prof Omoteso, who had earlier been honoured at a Breakfast Event by his colleagues at Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja, said many of the first class products haven’t been equipped with necessary tools that will make them succeed after graduation.
He said, “Some of the tools include short internship/placement during summer breaks and volunteering in relevant organisations.”
He also emphasised the need for institutions to integrate employability into their agenda.
According to him, “These include supporting students on CV writing, crafting of their personal statements, preparing students for interviews/assessment centre activities, etc, providing Research assistantship opportunities for outstanding students.
“Institutions should also liaise with employers for life projects to which students can contribute, with dual-supervision.”
The former Director of Postgraduate Programmes in Accounting at De Montfort University, Leicester said, “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 graduated from Universities. Like someone asked a question that they have got the degree but because they have not got the experience, it’s becoming difficult for them to secure jobs.
“This isn’t 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 University 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 a collaboration between ‘The Town and the Gown’ if you see what I mean. That would help them a lot.”
Prof. 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 or until they get a job elsewhere.”
In 2015, the University of Lagos absorbed a total of 125 students who graduated with First Class honours for employment as graduate assistants. Muslim News findings revealed that the gesture has since stopped.
The Pro-Chancellor called on the government and the Nigerian universities to be serious about the employability for their students, adding that they are talents that shouldn’t be wasting away.
Talking about Nigerian students seeking scholarship abroad, the guest speaker said it is not easy except through the right links and exploring the right areas.
According to him, aside that, they need mentorship support in terms of how to write personal statement. “What to put in the personal statement for example? Because that is very weighty while they are scrutinising and screening the applications. So that’s an area we can explore for the future. How do you craft your personal statement, how do you write your application in a way that would be able to sell yourselves?”
“That’s another thing we can do, and of course, the Universities can also do that for their students. In our University (at UK), we guide our students on how to write CV, how to excel at interviews by conducting mock interviews for them, assessment centres activities for them and real experts from the industries come and conduct this for them so that when they are going for interview or are applying, their chances of getting in would be enhanced.
The former Amir (President) of MSSN, University of Lagos opined that the Federal Government was not doing enough to improve the quality of education, saying the 2019 budget allocation of N620.5bn (about 7.05 per cent) for education sector is shameful.
“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 policy implementation and that is one of the challenges ASUU has got with the Federal Government. We’ve done a little but there is room for improvement.”
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