What after college ? skills or higher education

Amrita_Sharma

The recent budget speech 2018/19 presented the importance of employment opportunities in the context of Nepal for making “Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepalis” with an opportunity for more than 500,000 youth. Decent job or income opportunities has been highlighted as a basic social needs with an allocation of NPR 3.10 billion for the Prime Minister Employment Program. Further, it summits the employment guarantee bills and provision of NPR 700 thousands loan with a 5% subsidy in the interest rate against the collateral of academic certificates targeting educated unemployed mass. As per ILO report, the unemployment rate of youth aged 15-29 is 19.2 % percent and educated employment is comparatively high of around 26 percent in comparison with 2.7% of unemployment rate of whole population. The high rate of Educated unemployed rate may be high due to a socio-economic condition of the country and low pay and high demands of the individual. This concern is imperative to them who are currently graduating.Graduates are also confused and getting into problems in term of career choice. Mostlymisguided, lost and negatively influenced educated youth see prosperity being away from the country resulting short term solutions as foreign employment and migration. Youth are engrossed in daily routine and do not look critically at what they will be doing after completion of their education level and not just passing exams with a good grade. This has resulted the loss of thousands of educated workers and the number of innovative and dynamic people are depleting. The solutions may be developing the skills and working with determination but the steps taken are other way round as preparing to go abroad resulting brain drain and muscle drain.

I would like to present some cases in this context.Rajesh, Kamala, and Pratima are three recent graduates of Management, Education, and Engineering respectively. They all have completed their Bachelor degree with more than 3.5 CGPA and mostly focused their time on courses. All of them have no idea of what they will be doing in the future. Rajesh and Pratima have prepared curriculum vitae and started looking for the vacancy in the newspaper but they were confused on the requirements such as experience and skills needed for the job. They have applied on few openings but never heard back. Pratima started preparing GRE exam at Putalisadak, a renounced center located in Kathmandu as she could not get a job and was frustrated being at home and tired watching series downloading from torrent. There are many youths who are in the similar situation in our country.

Let me narrate another story of Ramesh Tamang, a Mechanical Engineer who is still struggling with his work and his career. After completing engineering from one of the reputed engineering colleges in Nepal, he started looking for  jobs. “I tried for more than 2 years and decided to go to Dubai as my father used to work there. I tried everything. I started learning Japanese language and did well on it. With the help of consultancy where I was teaching, I got enrolled in a language class in Japan, spent 1.3 million Nepalese Rupees and I am here now. I am not doing what I am supposed to do and working on meat shop during day and restaurant at night”.

He shared that he still spends two hours a week on Viber, Skype, and messenger to be connected with the people he knows with the hope to see possibilities to be back to Nepal.  His confusion and hardship and the cost and time he has spent is not only his personal problem but a social issue. He said that he has realized that Nepali youth need to develop skills not only working skills but also networking skills. His view is that self-belief is very important and behavior also plays a vital role in a career. He mentioned that he was very much motivated to choose business sector as his career but he was influenced by parents to join engineering although he was not passionate about it. When he did hard work and completed his degree, he didn’t find any relative on senior position to put him on the job. He gave the sense of prevailed nepotism and indicated on how some of his friends got a job. He also shared that his health condition is deteriorating with a lot of physical works and currently infected with tuberculosis. He also has the pressure of paying back the loan and he was very emotional while sharing that he has no hope for the future.

I met Rima Lama who is currently pursuing higher study in one of the reputed university in Nepal. She sold her land and spend more than 2 million Nepalese Rupees to go to Oslo. She tried for jobs for more than 2 years but was not successful. She could not focus on her study and work while she was there. She felt suppressed being recognized as “Foreigner” like an alien. She decided to come back and rather study here in Nepal. She shared her hardship and her experience while she was in Oslo. “It was not like what I dreamt here. There are very few successful cases, most of the Nepalese are trapped”. She further suggested that as there are seen and unseen advertisements of abroad study as some attractions, the real situation need to be disclosed. She shared,

When I didn’t get a job, instead of putting more efforts into learning the skills, I needed to prove myself, I was attracted to go outside. “The facebook pictures on the marine cruise and high building are illusions over the real situation and our duty is to present that too. It will help youth to choose and decide what they prefer.

I also have different stories of Robin, Smriti, and Erika than what I presented before. Robin completed management degree recently. He has chosen his career without the influence of his family. The economic condition of his family was not good. He also got a scholarship while studying and was passionate about his field of study. He was working as a volunteer while he was studying during free time and during vacations. He used to explore the opportunities and prepared lists of an organization where he can apply after the completion of his work.” I believe in myself, knowing the situation of the country, I also started learning practical skills as our courses are more theoretical.” He got a job as soon as he completed his study. Smriti, a very passionate lady, a recent computer engineering graduate, who is going to Germany for an internship for three months. She has already got an offer for a job here in Nepal but will accept the position after coming back from Germany. She wanted to learn more and implement learning from Germany on her future works in Nepal. She was also engaged in social work and improve her communication skills and leadership skills. Her parents always encouraged her to be a good citizen and contribute to the country. Erika, who is pursuing higher education is youngest among fours sisters. Her parents were highly educated however all of her sisters wanted to go abroad. They all got a visa to study but didn’t complete study as family expected. “There is the pressure of work and study as an international student. Many Nepalese dropped their education due to hardship and are trapped, So I prefer studying in Nepal and work here”, she said.

These are few stories of educated youth of Nepal which clearly presents the importance of employment and entrepreneur skills for youth in Nepal. The education system we have adopted are not inline with the local context and hardly contribute to soft skill development which are the need of current globalized market condition and employers need.

The current provision of the government on vocational training promotion and loan for the entrepreneurship is good initiation however skill development should be mainstream on the curricula. Requirements of the labor market are vast and priorities are constantly changing. The prediction of job market is difficult however general understandings are quite clear that existing academic degrees or certificates are insufficient to fulfill the requirement of the job market. Career choice can be looked critically and not up to the journey of passing the level with good grades but also pacing the future and preparing it with passions and motivations. Employers may want “ready-made” human resources but there is a need from employer side as well to invest in the training or the sensitization program coordinating with an academic institution. Graduates need to develop adequate skills as well as strong self-efficacy to compete rather than deciding prematurely on the options influenced by others and social environment.

Amrita Sharma

Student, MPhil in Development Studies, Kathmandu University

23rd June, 2018