What next for young people after university?
In February 2021, Makerere University and other universities in Uganda will hold graduation ceremonies for students who sat for the Uganda Advanced Certificate in Education (UACE) exams in 2016. It is possible that the graduation ceremonies in that year will be delayed by a few weeks to allow time for the national election early in February 2021.
Forty or fifty years ago, getting an education was equal to achieving economic and social success later in life. At that time there were too many jobs chasing after few graduates.
Now with increased population, the situation has been reversed and we have too many graduates chasing after too few jobs.
By October 9, 2021, the joy felt by the February or March graduates would have started giving way to hopelessness as many of them engage in the fruitless search for gainful employment.
Even those with a better chance of finding employment will find themselves falling at the last hurdle or being sent off after probation.
The reason for this last minute fall was well expressed in a tweet sent by a senior Cabinet minister who complained about the selfishness, inefficiency and unreliability of youthful employees.
In 2007/8 a group of parents approached us at Akamai Global and requested that we develop a financial literacy course for their children so that the children avoid falling into the same money troubles that the parents had experienced or were experiencing. The Money Headstart Course was our response to this request.
From the experience of running the course I would like to humbly suggest a number of things that parents need to emphasise and expose their children to so that their chances of financial success is enhanced.
Parents need to help young people appreciate the difference between being optimistic and having an entitlement mindset.
The person with an entitlement mentality thinks about what he should be paid instead of the value he must provide in exchange for the payment. Such a person walks with their nose high in the air and miss the opportunity to receive mentorship and training from experienced but seemingly less educated people.
Young people need to be clearly told work is a good thing. Henry Ford said opportunity often comes dressed in overalls. The same point is emphasised in the Bible which says God will bless the work of our hands.
This simple message is hard to take in when a 15 or 18-year-old does not do the simplest house chore. The irony is that we expect such a person who has never worked to start working after graduation.
Several schemes are being peddled where young people are told that they can get a lot of money without working for it.
These schemes include the numerous forms of betting and different multilevel marketing schemes which are in effect Ponzi schemes.
According to Investopedia, a Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investing scam promising high rates of return with little risk to investors. The Ponzi scheme generates returns for older investors by acquiring new investors.
Need for exposure
Young people need business experience early in life if we expect them to become job creators after getting a university degree.
They need to experience how the joy of providing a valuable product or service is stronger than the fear of rejection while selling or the fear of people’s misguided criticism of a ‘whole university graduate selling fruits and vegetables’.
I am not at liberty here to highlight the importance of learning good money management skills, improving communication skills and other self-management skills such as time management which are a must for today’s and tomorrow’s youth.