The world celebrates World Youth Skills Day on 15 July to shine a new light on skills, education and vocational training that can get young people employed. According to statistics, the youth are three times prone to unemployment as their education fails to give them skills needed for a job. As trends in the job sphere change, so do a required skill set. And this year’s theme, Skills for All, focuses on skills needed for every kind of job.

According to Kenneth Freeman “Higher education has its roots in the industrial revolution and prepares young people for the world that no longer exists. Traditional universities were designed to produce many ‘copies’ of certain types of people teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.—who, after ‘charging’ their batteries with knowledge, would staff specific positions of industrial societies and would remain there throughout their careers.”

According to a survey done by Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd on talent shortage in the country, lack of skills in Zimbabwe and experience are shown to be contributing to the difficulties faced by companies in filling certain positions. The survey results also showed that 74 percent of the respondents lack leadership and people management skills while most graduates lack technical and business appreciation skills.

Since the advent of technology, the world has changed but tertiary education has not. In today’s fast paced world where information technology has automated a lot of work, graduates find themselves more often than not ill fitting in the shoes of the workplace. To survive in today’s working environment, you need to be different and possess soft skills and personality traits that are not emphasised in conventional tertiary education. Competition is stiff in the world and diversity amongst employees is rewarded over uniformity.

Employers are seeking to employ individuals who can think fast on their feet. Agility has become a tool for survival because technology is changing every day and the world has literally become an adapt or die situation. Employers are seeking to employ positive people who soldier on when the going gets tough but have a willingness to learn and some companies are now offering paying tuition for education advancement as part of the employee benefits package.

Communication skills have evolved and are. This is not just restricted to a person’s ability to hold a conversation but encompasses their ability to effectively complete tasks and their ability to listen and understand orders and the needs of the market and clients. Focus, according to a Forbes article is the new IQ. The ability to focus and meet deadlines as well as produce work with limited errors are qualities that employers praise and that are lacking in students whose projects were supervised every step.

Attachment or internships were introduced to curb the skills gap that exists in the market. The student who spends four years of their degree without going for attachment gets a rude awakening when they finally get plunged into the world of work.  Challenges, however, arises when students go for attachment without adequate preparation and exasperated employers end up relegating them to doing tasks that are not in line with their profession and they walk out of attachment not having gained much experience.

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