UB graduates warned of unemployment realities

UB graduation
UB graduation

On Saturday, 4,136 graduates from the University of Botswana (UB) and the Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA) were capped at the UB Stadium.

The graduates were of different levels of academic excellence - from diploma, degree, masters and doctorates.  Among the high achievers was Unami Babaki, a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science graduate, who was awarded the UB 2015 Valedictorian Honour.

Amidst the excitement though, the guest speaker, the Vice Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho, Professor Nqosa Mahao sounded warning bells about the realities of limited job market and challenges  ahead.

Mahao noted that unlike in the past when a university qualification assured immediate job opportunity, unemployment is the greatest challenge today. “This is because the great paradox of the knowledge-based economy lies in its ability to co-exist almost without apparent contradiction with the phenomenon of highly-educated people, such as yourselves,” he said.

He said that many graduates roam the streets without gainful employment because the world economy is facing the worst job market crisis since the depression more than eight years ago.Mahao noted the situation has forced many graduates to accept inferior jobs or those irrelevant to their qualifications. This, he said, not only affected developing economies like Botswana, but even high-performing ones like China and India who are faced with high rates of graduates’ unemployment. “The dire implications for loyal citizenship and social stability are not too remote to fathom.”

Mahao said there was need for curriculum reforms to better align to national developmental priorities and national human resource plans as the entry point for universities. He said this would address challenges of graduate unemployment as it weighs heavily on universities and governments. He challenged universities to diversify their programmes to provide for broad academic, technical and vocational outcomes to satisfy the work environment.

“The integration of entrepreneurial skills in the curriculum has become a must-do in order to equip graduates who will be better positioned to create jobs not only for themselves, but for others too.” Mahao expressed optimism that UB graduates were well prepared to face the challenges of the job market.

He said that UB must be complimented for being a trendsetter in the region, with its impressive programmes reflecting thoughtful planning into their design.

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