Sierra Leone’s graduates navigate the unemployment maze, urging government intervention

Mackie M Jalloh: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 March 2024:

In the heart of Sierra Leone, the University of Management and Technology (Unimtech) recently celebrated the graduation of over a thousand students. Yet, as the diplomas and degrees were handed out, the bitter reality loomed large – a country grappling with over ten thousand graduates across diverse faculties, all standing at the crossroads of unemployment.

Year after year, the academic halls witness the emergence of hopeful graduates from various universities and technical institutes, armed with knowledge and degrees but left stranded in a job market that offers little solace.

The sad truth is that securing employment has become more about connections than competence, turning Sierra Leone into a place where “who you know” trumps “what you know.”

Banks and financial institutions, once regarded as pillars of opportunity for finance graduates, now host a surplus of unemployed talent. The discrepancy between the number of graduates and available jobs has created an environment where hardship, corruption, and limited job opportunities determine one’s fate, irrespective of academic achievements.

The situation becomes bleaker as professionals find themselves in occupations unrelated to their fields of study. Engineers become street vendors, Mass Communication graduates take the wheel of kekehs, and those with medical degrees drive poda poda or taxi.

The story unfolds as Banking and Finance graduates trade their dreams for street hawkers, selling mobile phone top-up cards, or becoming petty traders.

Sierra Leone, historically recognized for its commitment to education, is now overshadowed by a legacy of corruption that hampers the growth and progress of its youth. Public offices, intended to serve the people, are often filled with individuals who have little to show in terms of qualifications or competence, leaving deserving candidates neglected and jobless.

The Youth Ministry, while self-praising, appears to miss the mark as the jobless epidemic disproportionately affects those with technical skills or qualifications from specialized institutes.

The disconnect between the ministry’s claims and the stark reality faced by graduates is a constant reminder that action is needed.

The President, government and the youth minister must address this crisis head-on. The urgency lies in creating meaningful job opportunities, dismantling corrupt practices, and fostering an environment where merit prevails over connections.

It is time for a paradigm shift – a collective effort to rescue the aspirations of thousands who, despite their degrees and skills, find themselves ensnared in a web of unemployment.

Sierra Leone’s narrative can no longer be defined by the disparity between education and opportunity. It is time for the nation’s leadership to rewrite the story, transforming it into one of empowerment, progress, and a future where a diploma or Degree is not just a piece of paper but a ticket to a better life.


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