The Minister for Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, has underscored the importance of relevant university programmes in tackling prevailing unemployment challenges confronting the nation.
He said most graduates could overcome the current unemployment woes if there is a realignment of academic curricula to dynamic needs of the job market.
Dr. Adutwum, speaking at the 15th graduation ceremony of the Chartered Institute of Human Resource Management Ghana (CIHRMG) in Accra, emphasised that higher education institutions are integral to empowering individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in today’s competitive job landscape.
“When students come out of school, they have to come out as people who are qualified for the world of work. You see, sometimes we just blame the economy and say the economy is not growing fast enough, that is why we are not securing jobs. But sometimes, you know, as HR professionals the CVs that you get, you don’t have the appetite to hire,” he stated.
The Ghana Statistical Service’s Annual Household and Expenditure Survey (AHIES) revealed that the unemployment rate rose from 13.4 percent to 13.9 percent (1.8 million people) in the second quarter of 2022.
Currently, it is estimated that just about 10 percent of all university graduates in the country gain employment in public service annually, according to the Ghana Association of University Administrators (GAUA).
Acknowledging the rapidly evolving nature of industries and the emergence of new job sectors, Dr. Adutwum stressed the need for educational programmes that adapt to these changes.
He emphasised that fostering collaboration between academia and industries is crucial to ensuring students are equipped with practical skills demanded by the workforce.
“Recently, the demand for national service personnel is so interesting that more companies are looking for those who graduated with mathematics degrees and computer science – and they can’t find them. So, in tertiary education and beyond, we have to look at the relevance of programmes that are offered in our universities; and that’s when we can begin to talk about transformation.
“So, if you hear me talk about STEM and STEM and STEM, it is not for the fun of it. It is laying a strong foundation for our country in a way whereby our education system will be relevant to the needs of our country,” he stated.
President-CIHRM Ghana, Dr. Edward Kwapong, on his part congratulated the graduates for the sacrifice and self-denial they have gone through. He cautioned that the certificate is only a ticket to the theatre, adding: “Your continued stay, progression and elevation at the workplace will depend on how well you apply this certificate to demands of your work”.
Dr. Kwapong urged the new graduates to go out there and practice as professionals rather than academics. He said, while admiring excellent grammar, practical solutions are more important. “Be verbally proficient alright, but more professional in your practice and conduct,” he added.
The Professional Certification Board chairman presented 316 graduates, consisting of 58 men and 258 women. This is the second-largest congregation that the institute has presented.
He hinted that this year a total of one thousand, one hundred and twenty-five (1,125) students wrote exams across the examination centres in Kumasi, Ho, Takoradi, Accra and, for the first time, Sunyani. These numbers represent candidates who wrote in the January and July examinations of 2023.