Don’t be puzzled by the keyword above. The word “commencement exercise” is an American expression which means “convocation” in British English. What we are addressing this week is how academic degrees only may not ease graduates smooth transition to the labour market. As a matter of fact, employers are now looking for what graduates are able to offer other the what they’re certificates say they can.
In past two or three decades, getting employment depends largely on academic qualifications. That was why parents obtain loans to send their children to the universities with the hope that they will refund their debts when their children graduate and start working—almost immediately. This worked for them. But now, possessing good degrees without practical experience will get you a job, but not the one you want. And that’s why you need to garner more skills, which of course, will be relevant to your career to be successful.
Getting employment immediately after graduating from the university can be akin to swimming across the River Niger as quickly as possible. It’s an obvious fact that the rate of employment in the country is disturbingly high. Young graduates thus need to be able to distinguish themselves excellently for them to get the few available jobs in the labour market, except, of course they use “long legs.”
It is saddening that most students still believe that skills acquisition amount to nothings, and that earning First-Class grades makes the difference. They are wrong. While earning First-class gives you an edge over others, having zero practical experience puts you at the risk of not being employed. As First-Class students for example, your employer would want to see what you have done with your intellectuality. Failure for you to have concretised your ingenuity through various platforms you worked with, disappoints them and they begin to think whether or not you merited the fantastic grades you brag about.
Our advise to students, however, is that create a time to develop yourself by acquiring skills. It is a known fact that academic workloads in Nigerians varsities are tedious. Even at that, you cannot be busy all the time. Saying you are busy with academics as an excuse for not acquiring skills shows—consciously or unconsciously—your disregard for dynamism. The more you acquire skills, the more you chances are of getting employed and earning salaries. Even when you japa to other countries, without adequate skills you have to come back to Nigeria to start again.
While you at the universities, join societies that will help your all-round growth. Volunteer for organisations that will re-define you. It is that that no knowledge is lost and no skills are useless. Always find tie to developed yourselves, think into the future and prepare yourself adequately for life challenges. It is your conscious efforts to succeed that will make you successful, and not by spiritual intervention. And as the adage goes, “heaven helps those who help themselves.”
So, learn a skill today!