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HRDC to undertake employability study on tertiary education

BABOKI KAYAWE
An audit to establish the levels of employability of tertiary education programmes is on the cards.

The acting chief executive officer of the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) Dr Patrick Molutsi said in line with its mandate, the organisation saw it fit to conduct this study to inform government on what programmes were failing to absorb graduates in employment. 

Speaking at a media briefing on the forthcoming annual tertiary education conference and fair on Tuesday, Molutsi said graduate unemployment was a major concern that government was committed to addressing. The fair is scheduled for March 23-25.

He said the study is part of the ongoing overhaul in higher learning. The transformation is aimed at realising the long sought skills readiness and congruence between tertiary training and market needs. 

“The audit will inform us on what programmes have the largest numbers of unemployed graduates and oversupply, after which some of the courses will be discontinued,” he said.

However, he noted that not all wanting programmes would be ceased, as recommendations to optimise such courses would be part of the solution. Already, the ICT enabling sector; a component of the National Human Resource Development Strategy of 2009, has questioned the quality and execution of some ICT programmes. To this effect, the ICT sectoral committee has proposed a meeting with all providers, the industry and the HRDC to review the curricula.

Molutsi explained that lack of professional certification post ICT training was a major concern. “The sector has found out that many ICT graduates are unemployed,” Molutsi said.

“It is critical that the professional certification component is integrated in future curriculum”.

Though the lamentation on skills mismatch comes from far, Molutsi has assured the nation that “the marriage of (skills) supply and demand has started in earnest in this

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institution”.

While he acknowledged that most higher education programmes lacked practical skills, he said quality was constantly improving.

Moreover, he said the creation of key economic sectors of mining, minerals, energy and water, tourism, creative industries, agriculture, health, ICT and finance and business services sector to inform tertiary institutions’ enrollment, together with the Labour Market Observatory to assess the labour market demand, would ultimately curb the prevailing skills mismatch.

Ultimately, a list of Top 100 skills to augment the earmarked sectors would be drawn, according to Molutsi.

A technical advisor for HRDC from the European Union, Prof. Roy Dupre told the media briefing that a lot of decisions around education have been scattered, without coordination. Now that HRDC was unifying the previously disjointed entities, he said the public should not expect transformation to happen overnight.

“The important thing is that now there is a coordinating ground,” he said.

Commenting on quality of graduates, Dupre said institutions that train for ‘unemployment’ would be dealt with by the labour market.

In an interview on the sidelines of the media briefing, Dupre noted that lack of focus was to blame for the status quo.

“Most institutions are educating for unemployment,” he said, adding that, “If majority of graduates do not get employed, we have to look at the teaching to establish what we are not doing right”.

Dupre stated that the industry was a critical player in higher education such that they had to be engaged for the betterment of programmes and quality of graduates released into the labour market.

This year’s conference and fair will be going under the theme, ‘Promoting Human Resource Development and Employability through Technical and Vocational Education Training’.



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