According to Mohammad Sattar (2009), skills of ’employability’ can be best described as the complete possession of technical, soft and occupational (functional) skills.
There is a high rate of graduate unemployment in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to Trading Economics, 23.1 per cent of graduate degree owners are unemployed in Nigeria, although the report shows that the rate of unemployment is much lower in South Africa, totalling 5.9 per cent (Van der Berg, 2012). However, the unemployment rate is 41.6 per cent and 15.7 per cent in Ghana and Kenya respectively (Ghana Statistics Service, 2012), (Omolo. OJ,2010). It has been estimated that, on the average, it takes a university graduate five years to secure a job in Kenya.
The on-going changes in the workplace as a result of the dynamic nature of the international system demand that the current and future generation of workers should be well trained, their knowledge, skills and positive attitude are essential to cope with the demands of the modern world. For this reason, university students who are prospective employees, need to gear themselves up for a tough journey in the prevailing economic conditions. Previous research has revealed that the possession of employability skills has the capability to ascertain successful careers for students.
Furthermore, there is widespread concern about the work readiness of graduates, while employers are generally satisfied with the academic qualification of students, they perceive significant gaps in their IT skills, personal qualities (e.g. reliability) and transferable skills (e.g. team working and problem-solving). Research carried out in Nigeria has shown significant ‘skills mismatch’ between employer requirements and graduates display of skills in the workplace, particularly in relation to critical thinking, teamwork and people management
Employability skills are generic in nature and include the cognitive and soft skills that enable an individual to apply his/her acquired knowledge and skills (Jackson and Chapman, 2012). They cut across industries and jobs from entry-level to the highest level in the business (Cassidy, 2006). Furthermore, employers assign an important value to the development of employability skills, particularly those of graduates (Jackson, 2013), as these skills assist a person to get, keep and do well in a job. For this reason, there is unprecedented attention towards the current state and future of graduates (Jackson, 2010).
The study done by Ahmad Zaini (2005), shows that there are 80,000 unemployed technical graduates who are largely dependent on academic qualifications to get a job whilst possessing negligible employability skills.
From the analysis above, one can boldly give credence to the reason employers tend to hire foreign workers instead of locales. Also, thousands of Human Resource managers, recruitment agencies and other well-meaning citizens have expressed their disappointment in the conduct of job seekers ranging from their CVs, refusal to include cover letters, habitual lateness to work and more.
COLLETT which stands for College Education Trainers and Trainees, a Switzerland-based charity organisation currently supported by Swisscom and MAN investment has found this gap otherwise called “skills gap” and is setting up base in Nigeria to battle unemployment at all cost. The move is aimed at reducing the unemployment rate of African graduates by equipping individuals with employable skills needed to fit into the competitive workforce.