Of jobless graduates

OPINION – As multitudes leave university gates every year sterilised from ignorance and converted in academic gospels, a pre-ordained sequence of events awaits most of them.\r\n

A few favored by the gods will get employed and start journeying a life overflowing in fortune, a snobbish life epitomised by posh cars and designer outfits – a case of sweat bearing ever sweetened fruits.

The not-so-providential will accept low paying jobs and an ordinary life will follow them. Sadly this is where fate place most of ‘us’.

But the rest will remain unemployed and with nothing to show for their exploits in education. It is this last group that worries me most.

They are the jobless graduates!

To them a few days after graduating, armed with a diploma or degree – though jobless, they can still speak highly of themselves. A few months on, they start complaining, blaming either A, B or C for their fate.

But more will be coming – within a year anger, frustration, regret and hopelessness sink in and everyday thereafter two minds live earnestly in them – the main one being of following the once great trek to Mzansi or any Diaspora; the other to buy time by going for another ‘circumcision’ at the university.

I personally have comrades, intelligent brothers and sisters with whom I struggled in the vast and energy sapping terrains of attaining academic recognition, most of these, despite accomplishing such, are still jobless.

Together, we made concessions with destiny that upon attaining academic recognition we had reached the land of promise where honey and milk are fail-safe.

To us, tomorrow promised a brighter sun.

The prestige of being a university student would even provide more impetus to push against any adversity towards the ‘dream.’

Living in Gweru’s Senga or filthy backyards of posh suburbs such as Harare’s Mt pleasant or Bulawayo’s Matsh’amhlophe could not discourage us, neither could the long nights of reading (magala).

Illusions and fantasy were very much part of that life. No day would pass without one seeing oneself driving one of those fuel-guzzlers or sipping imported brands while sailing the waters of our Mighty Zambezi.

Difficult days would ask for bigger illusions and fantasy.

We had dreams, the same kind shared by our parents.

Our impoverished yet hard working parents had sent us on a mission to colleges, pregnant with hope that on return we would transform the lives of our kith and kin.

Sadly, the mission cannot be accomplished. Today, equipped with the ‘papers’ of our dreams, the dreams are still a dream and only that.

There is nothing to show for our academic purity except the well informed arguments we make at street corners, where so often we are reminded by colleagues that we are educated but perennially penniless.

Even the future looks set to accord the same negative judgment to today’s scholars and tomorrow’s job seekers. Reading a local weekly newspaper, I got incensed learning that our local hospitals and clinics would not be able to employ most of the nurses graduating from nursing schools dotted around the country.

It is surely painful to employ energies to study for a profession where you are not even guaranteed of employment on completion of your studies.

Ask any one – they would tell they know of a jobless graduate.

No wonder why O-usiphatheleni (Bulawayo’s illegal foreign currency dealers) used to say at the height of the Zimbabwe dollar crisis ‘dai ndakadzidza dai ndiri rombe,’ loosely translated to ‘had I been educated, I would have been poor’.

Many dismissed this O-usiphatheleni’s wisdom as hogwash or claptrap, but the state of things today has shown them to be correct. Certainly, many educated people are languishing in regrettable poverty. You can hardly notice the difference between them and the uneducated.

But it will always remain regrettable if young graduates, fortified with an unparalleled zeal to work and boasting of academic excellence, are denied, yes denied an opportunity to make a living from showcasing their knowledge.

The value of school will always remain questionable if these young graduates from college remain in the streets, which are the home for school drop outs and those whose intellectual foreskins are uncut.

To borrow from a learned brother, Nhlanhla Masuku’s paraphrasing on a ZBC’s current affairs program ‘Melting Pot’ – “young people must be disciplined workers first and become successful through natural progression”. Well intended the message maybe, but it is a pity when the young person cannot even find a job from where to progress naturally.

The biggest temptation among many is that people must create employment and not wait to be employed. Brilliant it may sound, but capital injection into a business is what water is to a dying soul without which death is natural.

As such, it is criminal when politicians make promises of job creation yet the number of unemployed but skilled young people continues to sour.

Currently, a gigantic chunk of the country’s population is unemployed, has become part of the ever ballooning informal sector or has out rightly abandoned the country for greener pastures else.

The solution to this historical error lies in interrogation of the education system to reorient colleges, universities and students on the human resources requirements per every sector of the country.

It is important to acknowledge the shrinking job opportunities in some sectors as compared to others hence the need encourage academia not produce graduates that industry will not be able to accommodate.

Until this is done many graduates will remain jobless.

A case in point is the number of media graduates being vomited by colleges everyday into the job market versus the number of media related jobs available. It certainly does not need a prophet to tell that most of them will not find employment.

The same can be said in relation to other fields like marketing, where almost every college offers market studies. The creation of jobs therefore remains crucial for government, the public sector and the private sector so as to give these jobless graduates a chance to prove their mettle.

My heart will continue to bleed until the academia priests and evangelists (the lecturers) and their disciples (the students) are certain to be rewarded and the ‘wisdom’ of O-usiphatheleni is reversed.