One man’s challenge is another’s Opportunity

Allow me to recap a 2011 event; I will assume we are all aware of the university students’ outrage regarding increasing fees which received extensive media coverage around July 2011. Secured within the borders of Ghana, one can be forgiven for their obliviousness in regards to a similar occurrence in the UK.

What am I talking about? Well, during my usual perusal on the website of a prominent HR magazine in the United Kingdom (UK), I stumbled upon a juicy concept I would like to share with you all, call it ‘food for thought’.  The article addressed the increasing fees in the UK but it had a more positive spin to it than our poor victimized Ghanaian students. I suppose that is not hard to believe, considering the greater accessibility of funds to British students which enables them to pursue higher education. However the positive spin on the situation was the role of employers within the UK.  Although the students get my full sympathy for their plight, my inspiration for this article however, are the employers discussed in the article.

The article stated that, some organizations in the UK had deemed the rising school fees as an opportunity. Although, having been in Ghana for years and being in the system as an HR personnel, I did not grasp immediately how this could serve as an ‘opportunity’ for these established organizations. So, how is this an opportunity? It is because a lot of organizations including pharmacies like ‘Boots’ UK, Banks like ‘HSBC’ UK, and retailers like ‘Marks and Spencer’ UK; have always been proactive in the recruitment and selection of graduates- some even before they graduate.

I chose these three organizations purposely because I have friends that were privileged enough to be recruited by these organizations before they graduated university. However, very few undergraduates in Ghana get to write their final exams with a job offer contingent on their results, as an added motivation.

Many organizations in the UK have always targeted graduates these are done through graduate recruitment fairs and graduate schemes that are set up for annual recruitment. Graduates can be likened to a piece of clay, they can be molded to one’s delight, and thus graduates can be trained as fresh, open minded people to embody the organization’s values. Graduates are therefore very valuable assets to an organization because they are fresh out of school with a wealth of knowledge and are open to learning on the job due to their awareness of the power of ‘experience’. You only have to open to the vacancy pages to know the ‘power of experience’ everyone is looking for experience and very few are willing to give you that experience; so what do you do? It’s the ultimate ‘catch 22’ graduates face.

These organizations are therefore sponsoring these students in pursuit of their university degrees as well as creating jobs for them to suit the needs of the organization; as they will be working there whilst they study.  Some examples of organizations taking this initiative are KPMG UK and GlaxoSmithKline UK. The number of students being sponsored by these organizations ranges from, as few as two students to as many as 100 per year.  So incase my mission is still not clear; why aren’t we seeing more of this in Ghana? And if it is indeed happening, why is it not being widely publicized for the awareness of students nationwide, so that they too might benefit from such an opportunity?

Its time our beloved Ghanaian employers saw these undergraduates and ‘experience deprived yet academically enriched youth’ which you might call fresh graduates- as assets and not as liabilities to their businesses. Over the years, Ghana’s fashion, lifestyle and many more has been influenced by the western world sometimes these influences are rather questionable and challenges our values. However this we can happily adopt.