Wednesday, July 24, 2024
SocietyGraduating Isn't Enough: Graduates, Job Seekers Face Bleak Employment Prospects

Graduating Isn’t Enough: Graduates, Job Seekers Face Bleak Employment Prospects

Demissie Fino, a 27-year-old graduate from Kotebe Teachers College, grew up in rural Ethiopia. In 2014, he moved to Addis Ababa in search of better job prospects. However, without any connections in the city, he says he faced numerous challenges.

Despite his college education, Demissie now finds himself working as a shoe shiner, a job typically held by much younger boys who have dropped out of school or fled rural areas in search of better living.

Reflecting on his situation, he shared his struggles, saying, “I spent years in college aiming for a better job to support my family, but now I am struggling. My parents, who currently reside in Wolaita, had high expectations for my success, but I am unable to even take care of myself.”

Another individual, whose name has been changed to protect their identity, shares a similar story. Yared Habtamu, a 27-year-old civil engineering graduate from a public university, says the challenges he has encountered in search of a job has pushed him to seek assistance from his family to meet his daily needs.

“This choice was a departure from their long-standing expectation for me to find a better job and support them,” he said. “Unfortunately, this shift in dynamics created an uncomfortable environment for both myself and my family, even to the point of going into an argument with my father.”

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According to him, he has applied to more than 15 job openings.“They all rejected me due to my lack of experience,” he said, inquiring,“How am I supposed to gain experience if there are no opportunities available?”

Yared says he has seen his friends with lower grades than his secure positions through nepotism, which he says has led him to give up his search for a job.

“I stopped applying and now I work as a driver, a job unrelated to my field of study. I wasted five years and my family’s money for nothing. This saddens me constantly,” he explained. “Everyone expectssomething from you after graduation, and it’s uncomfortable to tell them almost two years later that I still do nothave a job.”

Kebede Ayalew, whose identity has been protected, works at the Ethiopian Electric Power. He notes there are concerns about the institution’s hiring practices.

He says the office, which manages over 400 employees at its headquarters alone, has established guidelines for hiring new employees. “However, these recruitment guidelines are not being properly implemented,” Kebede said.

According to him, the committee selects applicants according to the guidelines, but after the officials make their decision, the chosen candidates are often replaced by relatives of the officials. “This not only affects job seekers but also harms the institution itself. Hiring individuals who lack the required work experience has a detrimental impact on the organization,” he explained.

Kebede emphasized that nepotism has become more prevalent following recent changes, leading to significant inefficiencies within the institution.

But government officials as well as private employers refute presence of such rampant nepotism.

The expansion of banks in Ethiopia has created opportunities for job seekers. The country now boasts over 30 banks, not including their branches in each region and city administration. The banking sector also hires a considerable number of job seekers each year compared to other industries. However, young graduates bitterly express that graduating from higher education institutions alone is not enough to secure a position in these banks, finding it highly necessary to have added financial resources.

Dawit Yohanes and Mikyas Solomon (name changed upon request), who reside in the Lemi Kura sub-city, share a unique bond. Despite one being employed and the other unemployed, their friendship, which began in the 9th grade, has remained strong. Both graduated from Dire Dawa University three years ago.

After graduation, Mikyas secured a job in a private bank, earning a better salary. With his life becoming more stable, he says he is nowable to continue his education and pursue a second degree.

On the other hand, Dawit, who had superior university scores compared to Mikyas, initially performed well in the bank’s selection process. He says he even advanced to the interview stage after successfully passingthe pre-employment test. However, Dawit was not ultimately selected.

Mikyas explained, “I advised my friend Dawit to find and pay 100,000 birr. Unfortunately, he couldn’t afford it. I approached my family and relatives, and through their support, I made the payment. After one month, I was informed that I had passed the test and was hired.”

Dawit, whose hopes of finding a job are fading, now considers his time at university a waste.

Youth who have graduated from various universities and have been searching for employment for years claim that the issue present in Ethiopian banks is also prevalent in other public and private institutions.

According to Tadios Meseret from Gojo Employment Agencies, “There are numerous job seekers out there; we receive a minimum of 50 individuals per day seeking employment. However, some of the requirements, such as salary and experience, are unreasonable.”

Sara Ayalew, a 26-year-old, shared her troubling experience with The Reporter.

“I was 24 when I graduated from Jima University with a degree in psychology. I actively searched for a job and applied to several positions. I went through the interview process and was successful. However, during a phone call with the owner at 2:00 PM, he made inappropriate sexual advances towards me, expressing his interest in spending time together. I rejected his advances, and as a result, I did not get the job.”

Tadios further explained that his Agency receives complaints about employees facing sexual advances from employers, managers, and others. “In some cases, we have had to discontinue our collaboration with such companies as agencies.”

Bemnet Haile, who has experience working in employment agencies and currently collaborates with various agencies, shared her insights, saying, “Many employees complain that it is more challenging for men to secure jobs compared to women.”According to her, some companies have inappropriate requirements, “prioritizing beauty over skills.”

“Many job seekers are frustrated by the demand for several years of experience. Moreover, when a company needs two employees, they often advertise for ten, creating unnecessary struggles for job seekers,” Bemnet said.

As a recommendation, Tadios expressed, “The government should provide support and collaborate with employment agencies.”

Efforts made to contact the Minister of Labor and Skills, as well as the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs bore no fruit.

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