The issue of unemployment is one of the most frequently discussed subjects among government officials, academics, and employers in and of itself. Many people grow tired of hearing about it every time it becomes a major news subject because of how often it has been covered.
Media outlets frequently begin their coverage with the plight of recently graduated people who cannot find work. The final conclusion in these articles and productions typically places the blame on government officials and lawmakers for failing to produce sufficient employment opportunities for newly graduated college students. This might be one of the reasons, but there are many more secrets that are being kept from the public that can be pointed to as a key cause of the job shortage Ethiopians are experiencing right now.
I would like to begin unearthing the buried truths by focusing on a few situations that are already familiar to me. The following is the story of a recent college graduate who earned a degree in marketing from one of the country’s public universities. Soon after graduation, the graduate started applying for employment, just like any other job seeker would do. His aspiration was to work in banking, so he submitted his resume to as many private financial institutions as he could manage.
Yet, getting hired wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. He sought the opinions of those close to him to determine the cause of his troubles. While some people with a lower cumulative grade were getting the position for which he had applied, his desperation for an answer intensified. The phenomenon puzzled him, so he posed the question to his close friends. Their response was startling. They advised him that in order to get the position, he would need to pay a certain amount of money to the HR managers who were in charge of hiring fresh graduates at the banks.
That’s bribery, and the sum can top 200,000 birr. It was at this moment that the graduate got in touch with me to ask for my assistance in securing this employment. At first, I believed that he wanted me to tell the media about this event; however, it turned out that this was not what he desired. He requested monetary assistance from me in order to compensate the HR managers. I did not agree.
It is a disturbing reality that unemployment has become a source of employment for those looking to capitalize on the vulnerability of recent graduates. The marketing graduate’s story extends beyond him. Not only recent college graduates are struggling with this issue, but also a significant number of people who are currently employed but are looking for a higher position in the job market.
It is becoming increasingly necessary to either have a friend or relative who already works for the company at which one is seeking employment or to have a relative who is already employed there. Employers use a recommendation as an excuse when asked why they hired someone without a job vacancy announcement.
In many cases, employers or people in charge of the department of human resources will choose a candidate for a position and then proclaim that the position is open, even though it has already been filled by another individual. Because of this, some dissatisfied job searchers will say things like, “Why would I bother to apply for a position that is already granted to someone affiliated?” Instances like these can frequently be seen in international institutions, embassies, and non-governmental organizations.
When it comes to the current state of the employment market, which is dominated by affiliations and cronyism, women are the ones who suffer the most. They are exploited by a system that trades sexual favors for jobs. They are willing to do whatever is requested of them by their bosses in order to keep the job that they have already paid a price for. As a result, some of them reach a point where they become despondent.
There were certain institutions that had the guts to tell the public the truth. For example, the African Union once disclosed that young women were used in exchange for jobs in order to obtain and keep jobs at the organization. This was done so that the young ladies might have the possibility of working there. Even while making such a bold revelation is applauded, now is the time for private companies and non-governmental organizations to examine their methods of hiring.
To begin, let’s look at banks, since that’s where the narrative began: the HR managers at banks need to be investigated, and whoever is profiting off of the agony of recent grads needs to face the consequences of their actions.
The same can be said for various international organizations. If these incidents had taken place in Europe or the United States, it is pretty apparent that legal action would have been taken against the individuals involved. They need to follow the same criteria here as well, and everyone needs to do their part to ensure that the job goes to someone who is deserving of it.
Job seekers must be a part of the solution. People must have the courage to expose such misconduct in order to create a better future.
(Zelalem Tamir is an economist by profession. He can be reached at [email protected].)
Contributed by Zelalem Tamir