HARARE – University and tertiary colleges’ graduates are increasingly taking up menial jobs amid a sharp rise in the number of students graduating without any hope of securing employment, a survey by the Daily News has revealed.
Highly qualified young people are routinely being expected to take on “low-skilled” roles to fill gaps in the workforce.
The number of ex-students in “non-graduate” jobs such as shelf stackers, kombi drivers and vendors is soaring.
At the same time, more university leavers are also being left unemployed due to the dramatic economic downturn.
The majority of students are without work years after graduating.
Employment prospects are getting dim amid a weakening economy and further job losses from public spending cuts.
A snap survey by the Daily News revealed that some graduates have turned to the most basic menial jobs.
Ocean Ngwerume, a public administration graduate from the University of Zimbabwe, said he was now driving a kombi after he failed to get a job.
“I graduated last year and I could not find a job,” he said.
“I applied in many organisations but I failed to get a job. I could not sit at home and do nothing.
“Some of my friends whom I graduated with are now security guards and others are working in restaurants in South Africa.”
Melody Chademana, a marketing graduate from Harare Polytechnic, told the Daily News that she was working at a supermarket after she failed to get a job.
At least 30 000 graduates are churned out from universities and tertiary colleges every year, but most of them fail to secure employment due to the declining job opportunities in the formal job market, a situation that has constantly recurred over the past 10 years.
President Robert Mugabe caps thousands of university students every year but most of them join the unemployed ranks.
This year alone, Mugabe capped 2 860 graduates at the University of Zimbabwe, 566 at Bindura State University, 2001 at National University of Science and Technology, 1 343 at the Great Zimbabwe University and 1 245 at Chinhoyi University of Technology.
Nearly 4000 are expected to graduate from the Midlands State University.
But soon after the pomp and fanfare that accompanies the graduation ceremonies, most of the graduates face a bleak future, with even State firms retrenching.
The country’s unemployment rate tops 85 percent and additional people are becoming jobless every day as more firms shut down citing harsh economic conditions.
A recent survey by the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) said 711 companies in Harare went bust in the period July 2011 to July 2013, rendering 8 336 individuals jobless.
This is an addition to more than 90 companies that have closed shop in Bulawayo since 010, with more than 20 000 workers thrown into the streets.
Believe Tevera, vice president of Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) said the graduates are at the deep end.
“The situation is not looking good,” Tevera said.
“I know that some of the UZ graduates are into pool game business. Some of the graduates are now cross border traders.
“For some ladies, they have gone into prostitution and l know of a couple of ladies from UZ who do that.
“There is one MSU (Midlands State University) graduate who used his O Level certificate to get a job as a shunter at Zesa. This situation is terrible. Some graduates are vendors selling sweets and airtime. The government needs to create employment so that graduates can make a decent living.”
Martin Mpofu, a journalism graduate from National University of Science and Technology (Nust), said he was now into poultry farming after failing to get a proper job.
One call centre worker who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “Econet advertised that there were call centre vacancies for diploma holders, so l applied using my diploma certificate as l was afraid to be told that l was overqualified. I did my finance degree with Nust but l failed to get the job that l desired so l settled for the call centre,” she said.
Efforts to obtain comment from the ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education was futile as the minister Olivia Muchena and her deputy Godfrey Gandawa were not picking up their phones, while the permanent secretary Washington Mbizvo was said to be out of the country.