Some weeks ago, I came across a flyer on the twitter handle of the University of Lagos advertising a career week organized for students of the university in their final year. I was happy and excited by the fact that such an event is happening in UNILAG. The advertised programme, with the theme “Grab your Job/ Empowered to be your own boss”, was organised by the Counselling Centre of the Students’ Affairs Division of the university. The aim, according to the flyer, was to expose the students to requisite mindset and relevant skills for success in the world of work. The four-day programme covered training on job hunting, employability skills, CV crafting, job creation and skill acquisition. It also included dummy interview, job test and interaction with human resources experts.
With the frightening statistics of unemployment among Nigerian graduates, the training which was held in September this year was a right step in the right direction. The university should be commended for a number of reasons. One, being a public federal university, one does not expect that it would get to that level of innovation as quickly as this. Government owned institutions in Nigeria are not competitive. They do not look for students. Theirs is just to float a course, advertise and students would either rush or be forced to study such courses when their scores do not meet the cut off point.
Second, the fact that the programmes was conceived and executed also indicated that the university is waking up to the realities of education in this era. Global best practice dictates that universities do not only admit and train students for four or five years, they also ensure they give their graduates the needed training, exposure and connection. The return on investment is high. Such alumni would look back to reward the system that secures their future for them. The students can also have an idea, like the Stutern Report indicates, whether they stand to profit from the tuition and other fees paid while getting trained.
Third, the university has also attached some level of importance to the exit phase of the students’ life on campus. Before now, the tradition is to focus on the entry point. Tertiary institutions organise orientation programmes for newly admitted students. During these programmes, they enlighten the fresh students on university’s rules and regulations, sources and dangers of distractions and other issues they deem important to the survival of students on campus. Therefore, it is commendable that students in their final year of study are now being considered too. Creating such avenues would enable the students to have some level of clarity as far as post university issues are concerned.
Fourth, the university is located in the commercial and creative capital of Nigeria is leveraging on the town and gown collaboration. Even though not stated in the flyer, it is easy to add that such a programme is birthed by some kind of cross fertilization of ideas between the concerned units of the Students’ Affairs as well as selected human resources and recruitment agencies in the city. Such efforts can facilitate discovery of talents of brilliant students and get them the needed jobs. It is indeed a move that should be well applauded.
It is my hope that other universities, whether private or public, would emulate what UNILAG has done in the area of graduate career and employability development. The issue of unemployment in Nigeria is a time bomb which all concerned stakeholders must work together to diffuse.