Where do they teach experience?

Fatumah Kidhen Haifa, a graduate of Public Administration from Islamic University In Uganda is another graduate whose hope to get a job continues to wane

Apprenticeship is one of the most effective ways to gain work experience. It might not pay much but later in life, one’s skills are priceless. FILE PHOTO 

BY Desire Mbabaali


It is puzzling how employers put experience as a requirement for every job vacancy.
You are a fresh graduate seeking your first job. However, every job advert you come across requires at least three years of experience.
“Then you begin to wonder which school teaches experience,” says Bernard Kato, a graduate of Social Works and Social Administration from Makerere University.
“I always get agitated by that part of the job requirement [experience]. Almost every employer wants someone with some experience. But the question of how they expect a fresh graduate to have experience continues to remain unanswered. No one is willing to hire people without experience,” he adds.
Such is the story of young graduates who are desperate for opportunities but continue to be tossed by a hostile job market that has very low capacity to absorb more than the 400,000 graduates released from higher institutions of learning every year.
Fatumah Kidhen Haifa, a graduate of Public Administration from Islamic University In Uganda is another graduate whose hope to get a job continues to wane.
“For close to two years, I could not find a job. Every job I applied for required some sort of experience. I gave up,” she says, adding it was not until she enrolled for a diploma in cosmetology and fashion that she started her own business after one year.
The job market, especially in Africa, is a game of experience as employers are reluctant to inject money in training inexperienced employees, whose productivity they cannot guarantee.
However, as a remedial, experience can be attained through a number of avenues, such as volunteering, internship and graduate trainees.
Jonathan Kasawuli is a graduate of Library and Information Science, has for at least one year been volunteering at Kawempe Youth Centre library.
“I could not find a job, but I had to practice what I had studied. That is how I thought of volunteer work when I heard of an opportunity at the youth centre,” he says.
However, it has been a difficult journey since the allowances that he is paid cannot sufficiently cater for his bills, especially transport.
“I have learnt a lot. I believe the experience I am getting here will in future be sufficient enough to get me a better job,” he adds.
Experience can also be attained through graduate trainee programmes that allow young people to further their knowledge of certain fields, especially in regard to professional courses.
According to Henry Nsubuga, a global career development facilitator and manager of Makerere University Counselling and Guidance Centre, many students are released into the job market without proper guidance.
However, it is more challenging when students fail to realise market needs and trends, especially when they refuse to take on roles that are helpful to furthering their careers.
“You can have experience even without being involved in formal employment. You might have been a mobiliser in an association or social event that was successful, a writer or an editor for a university magazine. Those are simple jobs that pay little but can give you some good career additions,” he says.
Unfortunately, he says, many graduates do not see it in the same way but at the same time employers need to relax their demands as there is a complete paradigm shift in globe events and demands.

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