Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why Do Ghanaian Employers Require University Education?

University of Ghana LibraryImage by nikkorsnapper via Flickr

Yesterday, I had a call from a friend who’s been job-hunting from the middle of last year till now. He’s been lucky to be short-listed for a few interviews but none ever worked out due to the “university degree” menace rocking the nation.

This guy in question is a very practical person when it comes to the field of information technology. He’s just curious to know about the latest IT trends, new software usage, troubleshooting skills and How-to’s but he’s not getting employed. He's studied at one of the best private IT institutions in Ghana and yet, no job. So I asked myself; what is wrong with not having a degree??

Dearest my passionate reader; please help me answer this question that keeps bugging my mind over the above subject.

Question: Why do employers in Ghana demand a prospective employee to have a degree before been employed?

According to a colleague I shared this topic with yesterday; this is how she defines a “degree”. She says; “A degree only shows that a person can follow a set motion of educational learning, but that person might have no common sense or experience at all”.

To some extent, I realized what she said was very TRUE. Do you also agree or disagree with her? This is actually very evident with a lot of people I know who have a degree in Information and Communication Technology, Computer Science and Computer Engineering but absolutely knows nothing. Yes, they know absolutely NOTHING.

Somewhere in August 2009; a week after Maker Faire Africa, a friend asked me to come have a look at his computer because it was acting “funny” and needed to format it. He didn’t even know the steps in formatting a PC, let alone grab an installation CD to start… Would you believe this friend is a graduate from the prestigious University of Ghana with a BSc Computer Science degree couldn’t solve this small problem on his PC?? What is the essence of his degree then?

I know graduates who have first-class honors in the IT field from some of the top universities of Ghana. I randomly asked a few of them to terminate a CAT-5 network cable for use in connecting to a Local Area Network [LAN], and they were like flying to the Accra Zoo for assistance. When asked why they couldn't terminate the cable, their reply was; “We were not taught how to terminate a network cable at the university!” You wouldn’t believe where some of these guys are working now?

Some random girl [a university graduate] who keeps reading my blog and thinks I’m a geeky/nerdy sort of a person because of my passion for tech-stuffs once asked me: “Why is it that I cannot get a job”? My answer to her question was this simple; “You don't have any practical experience in ICT and for that matter, you need to go for ICT professional courses [Cisco, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle or CompTia] in addition to the degree you have. If you have any of the trainings/certifications in those fields, your chances of getting short-listed and a promising job is far higher than only the so called “Degree”.

How would you compare the “whom you know” syndrome currently rocking the nation to the bureaucracy of yester-years?? It seems that with the advent of the Americanized system (the introduction of the CV), people are pigeon-holed into whatever category of work they include on their CV. What is difference between a “Personnel” and a ‘Human Resource” manager? Do you have any idea how your CV is treated when you apply to any of the GSM companies that everyone is dying to work for right after the university??? Buzz me for more fila…!

In conclusion, common sense can never be bought but can be acquired if you so wish for one. Thanks to David Ajao and all bloggers at Ghana Blogging for keeping the aggregator running till now.

Share your views, comments, criticisms and objections here. Those are the reasons why I always sit up every morning to put my thoughts on my blogs for you. Enjoy and hope to see you come back for more....!

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Paul said...

Interesting. Much the same syndrome is attacking the UK right now, where you need a degree just to get a basic job. Degrees aren't about getting a good job anymore, you need them for just about everything above shelf-stacker at the local supermarket, from what people say.

Also I agree with what you say about the Computer Science degree - a good friend of mine has done it and I believe he has said that the only reason he's any good at what he does is because of his self-taught knowledge. Quite a few of the people he works with are incompetent and they have similar qualifications.

enyonam said...

A Computer Science graduate who can't format his own PC and re-install? You've got to be kidding me!!
Then again, I think the problem is the lack of common sense as u put it or the ability to acquire the inquisitive spirit.. Not everything is taught at the Universities. That's why books are published all the time; so that they are read..

As for the issue about degree requirements, all i can do is sigh before i ask this question:have you forgotten about the part that asks for 5 years working experience? How the hell do they expect one to have experience if they haven't been employed before?

I end my piece by agreeing with you on the point that common sense cannot be bought but can be acquired if you wish for one. After all, I don't have a degree in Computer Science but I sure as hell know how to google for instructions on how to solve problems....

Thank you for posting this.

Anonymous said...

I think it depends on the field. You can't practice medicine without a medical degree, or be a lawyer without having studied the law and obtained a degree. But certain fields such as computer science are really more about personal skill and talent, than about a degree. As for the guy with a BSc in Computer Science who couldn't format his own computer - well, I can't decide if that speaks to the quality of education at Legon or to this guy's competence.

Another point worth noting is that there are more job seekers than jobs so companies/organizations use cut-offs to eliminate people. E.g. if you have a position available for one IT person and 100 candidates apply, there has to be a way to eliminate 99 people, hence the degree requirement.

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

It's all too easy to argue in sophistry and fallacy. Have they invented a better standard for determining trained talent than university degrees? I think not. Tell your friend to acquire what it takes. He should get a university degree. It should not be a problem for a person of his level of common sense, no?

Ghana_Hall_of_Shame said...

One of the simplest reasons they ask for a college degree to screen applicants. Imagine the number of applications they will have to review if they said anyone with "some high school education" can apply.
Your friend needs to get the attention of recruiters by selling himself. If he is that good, he should prove it. The easiest way to prove you are capable is wave that college degree. If he doesnt have it, the onus is on him to show the EXTRAordinary things he has done or can do.


Charles said...

Even some 'scientists' with masters and PHDs are just as useless as the cat5 cabling zoo trip... and i have to work for them.... a lot of meny is getting wasted in the Ghana system, going to projects with more people on them than are smart enough (smart meaning actually able to understand what they are really doing on their own) to get the task completed WELL!

Got tired waiting for a job. Started my own business tackling lil probs my own way!
Pissed at Home - GH

Oluniyi David Ajao said...

A degree is good but we live in a country where only degree holders are respected.

Our Voices said...

Are there enough tech savvy, English speaking Ghanaians in Accra to staff a call center? What would be a good resource to find them?

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A degree is good but we live in a country where only degree holders are respected.