Unprepared graduates in a competitive job market: Ideals vs. Realism in Somalia’s Labor Market

Every year, thousands of graduates join Somalia’s tiff labour market. The majority of these graduates come from local institutions while a good percentage are returnees from abroad institutions. Not surprisingly, both Somali citizens and non-Somali citizens come/return to Somalia to work and live. 

However, the tough conditions prevailing in the labour market like high unemployment and low labour participation rates don’t allow many of these graduates to secure their dream jobs or start their ideal businesses in Somalia. And, when tough market conditions coincide with the lack of necessary skills, information gap and poor preparation, the effect strikes higher. Clearly, this might imply that the ideal graduate is not matching market realities, exacerbating the situation.

According to various studies on graduate employability in Somalia, many personal factors contribute to the failure of graduates in securing jobs. Sub-optimal quality of graduates themselves, low levels of English proficiency, poor communication skills, negative mindset, lack of knowledge on the latest developments in the market and the absence of effective and helpful networks make a significant contribution to the problem.

Many other graduates still hope to join this tiff market while unprepared. Even the basics of CV writing and the ability to articulate oneself, if given the opportunity, remain significant obstacles. Worse even, is the reluctance most of these graduates have towards learning, applying to jobs, creating or/and strengthening helpful networks and asking for a guide. Simply put, unprepared graduates wish to partake in a competitive market. 

The consequences of these market realities aggravate the situation. The new breed of graduates sits at home with psychological problems of frustration, depression and deep mental health effects. In return, the social life and economic structure have experienced increased crimes, social violence, addiction to severe drugs and erosion of human capital. As a result, Somalia’s labour force has a high proportion of jobless people who are not actively seeking work.

To save the citizens and the country from these individual and national uncertainties, it is paramount to teach the labour market entrants a few things that would at least reverse the effect. Here are four parameters that may be useful in developing the ideal graduate who will not only survive but also thrives in the labour market:

  1. Mindset

Mostly, young men and women comprise of two categories; those who believe that the inequalities in the market are born with certain people and however hard they work, they will never get what they deserve. The other category belief that the opportunities in the labour market are for a certain group of people, and that however much they don’t pay optimal efforts, they will have an access to opportunities. The reality has proved them wrong, and both categories are not fit for this dynamic and continuously changing market, if not in the short term, in the long term. 

To thrive in this market, young graduates need to cultivate a mindset that trains them with hard work, optimism, and quality of service. It is no longer about who you know but what you know. Everyone is after a talent. Enrich your talent. 

  1. Information

Data always makes our lives better. Knowing enough from the leading industries and experts in your field will draw you closer to filling the unemployment gap. Being part of effective networks and active connections are also key in helping you become employed. Being informed of how the systems and processes operate will also locate young people in a better axis in the employment line.

  1. Preparation

Preparation is key in every success. Its absence brings failure a mile closer. Most graduates tend to start preparing for victory after graduation. The lack of it has seen many sitting at home, and many others joining social crimes and domestic violence. Young men and women should start preparing in the first day of their academic degree. Having a clear picture of what you want to become can help you in fueling up for success. Be prepared for the opportunities, ups and downs, and appointments and disappointments. Preparation is the formula that never fails its friend. 

  1. Constant learning 

The formal education young people go through from primary to tertiary leaves them with a closed mind; it makes them believe that learning stops at graduation. Joining the wider world, they encounter a totally different environment! With regret, many of them see 90% of everything they were taught in class as helpless. They can’t secure decent jobs with the papers. Even if they get hired, they may feel quite irrelevant at the workplace. Looking back, this might not be the fault of the curriculum or the nature of institutions, but rather the changing market demand. Yesterday’s best practices may lead to dead ends, today. To survive in this strange world, young graduates should upskill. Constant learning should be the ideal strategy. Take a course, attend a discussion, learn a new skill, seek exposure, befriend people with wisdom, and travel as much as you can afford.

Luqman Yasin Gelle, Head, Research and Professional Development Center, East Africa University, Garowe. Luqmaanyare2000@gmail.com

15 Responses

  1. This is one of the interesting articles that reveals the reality that exist my home country. However it would be good thing if the lecturer of Somali institutions commense capacity building seminars that is intended to cambat the peak of unemployment problem

  2. Dear Luqman Yassin,
    Thank you so much for your crystal clear elaboration on the ground of unemployment.
    Mainly Africa’s graduate ineffeciencies that needs redress.

  3. Thanks Luqman, for exploring and highlighting these prolonging challenges with our young Somali graduates in the country. Honestly speaking, I would concur you on the following points as I see them as most critical obstacles on our today’s young graduates:

    1. Most of our young generations in general lack the confidence to change their mindset and take the challenges as well as create their own opportunities in the country.

    2. Being too PROUD to take or accept lower jobs(Waiters, cleaners, drivers, potters and so on) I believe if the local universities or any other educational institutions would provide a coaching and counseling sessions/ subjects to their students such bad mindset would be at least reduced.

    3. Lack of apprenticeships, our local business communities don’t have the courage and trust in placing those young graduates into their business to help them more on understanding the day today dynamics. Non of our biggest companies(Dahabshil, Hormuud, GOLIS, Telesom and others) doesn’t have such programme or even not willing to propose🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️

    4. Our educational systems or university curriculums are not up to the date, and linked to the current market trends, most of their faculties and courses are mainly based on general concepts on businesses, economy, ICT and so on and that is why these graduates are not thinking a head because nothing was given in terms of preparing themselves and joining the world’s market crises.

    5. Concerned Government institution’s role is also another missing factor here which could have been a roadmap for them to keep the track running on the right direction.

    Lastly, I believe, more coaching, counseling and dialogue forms/ sessions would have been in a better position to support these young graduates in the country to cope with these prolong constraints and at least encourage more on arranging themselves and taking the lead in some areas they can fit in.

  4. Prezzo Lugman Yasin Gelle for the brain storm eyeied on the challenges faced for those who rashes when the New graduates .This article reflects on the very roughly in line with no hints when labour market.Forget about competition, He /she will be given rejections Bxc of his /her poor cvs when reviewed, which will give him stress and ask Rhetorical questions why he/she was not short listed on the very post applied.

    Thanks for the piece of writting comrade Lughman Geelle

  5. I’m happy that Luqman is a lecturer now and heading a whole department in one of the best universities in Puntland, hopefully, this finding could be incorporated into the existing syllabus of his university so that it reflects the reality he talked about in the market.
    Thanks to him

  6. This is well articulated piece and i hope our young generations will take advancantage on this .. thanks Luqman for taking the time to write this piece.

  7. Luqman has immensely contributed the indicative actions leading to Somali graduates encounter market competition thus high unemployment in the labour market. Clearly improving the above parameters will adversely contribute significant in the market labour.

  8. This is well informed diagnosis of the real matter.
    The root cause of this tragedy sails around two main issues as Mr. Luqman mentioned
    1. Preparation
    2. Mindset


    the Six Ps success statement states that;
    Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
    The backbone of any education system is it’s primary and Secondary stages .
    These two stages must play their role accordingly in order to improve our product at the tertiary level.

  9. This is amazing article in which both describing situation of unemployed youth and ways to thrive in competitive market.

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