EMPLOYABILITY COMPETENCIES NEEDED BY BUSINESS EDUCATION GRADUATES FOR EMPLOYMENT IN EBONYI STATE
Background of the Study
The concept of employability has in recent times remained the focus of government, employers, job seekers and educators. Brown and Hesketh (2004) defined employability as the relative chances of getting and maintaining different kinds of employment. While most people view employability in absolute terms, focusing on the need for individuals to obtain credentials, knowledge and social status; the concept of employability can also be seen as subjective and dependent on contextual factors. Employability not only depends on whether one is able to fulfil the requirements of specific jobs, but also on how one stands relative to others within a hierarchy of job seekers (Brown and Hesketh). Fugate, (2004) defined employability as a form of an active adjustment of individuals towards certain occupations until they could identify and recognize existing career opportunities in the work place. It takes a skill for a job seeker to be able to identify opportunities where others could not identify. According to Kazilan, (2009), employability refers to a group of important skills instilled in each individual in order to produce productive workforce. According to Hillage and Pollard (1998) as cited in Hind and Moss (2011), employability refers to a person’s capability for gaining and maintaining employment. For individuals, employability depends on the knowledge, skills and Abilities (KSA) they possess, the way they present those assets to employers and the context (e.g. personal circumstances and labour market environment) within which they seek work (Hind and Moss, 2011). In this paper, employability or employability skills are the skills needed by individuals to function effectively and efficiently in the world of work either as an employee or an employer of labour. The labour market is an arrangement that brings the employer and job seekers together. The employability Competencies of a job seeker will go a long way in determining the relative standing of the individual in the labour market.
Employability incorporates the dual aspects of supply and demand of labour to show that advancing one’s position in the labour market by gaining credentials is partially dependent on structural factors outside the individual’s control. The recent financial crisis demonstrates that global economic factors can and do have a significant impact on the likelihood of an individual securing a job regardless of their skills, credentials and social status. Our financial institutions and stock exchange market are yet to recover from the crisis. The retrenchment exercises in our banks and merger of some of the banks that have heightened the unemployment rate is not unconnected with the crises.
It is often believed that credential, knowledge and social status alone will guarantee a good position in the labour market. With the restructuring of the nation to a knowledge based economy, there has been a paradigm shift with more emphasis or demand for high calibre management skills. However, a focus on obtaining skills in order to gain good employment or standing in the labour market has led to an over-supply of graduates and a larger number of contenders chasing the same top jobs. The rate at with our higher institutions churn out graduates is indeed alarming without commensurate spaces for them to work. Brown and Hesketh (2004) stressed that there is a clear mismatch between individual’s expectations of employability and the realities posed by the labour market. This was what informed the classification of job seekers by Brown and Hesketh into two and they are: purist and players. The authors described the purists as those that believe in merit in getting their desired jobs because they have the requirements for the job. On the other hand, the players adopt any means possible to secure their desired jobs either by ‘hook or crook’ (that is, either legally or illegally). With the recent development in this part of the world, the players tend to thrive owing to the limited job opportunities.
A major concern of graduates is on what constitutes employability competencies. The competencies possessed by graduates seem to be different from what the employers want. Some employers have tried to outline some of these skills they want from job seekers. In a bid to creating harmony in their skills, the Secretary Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) prepared reports on ways of assisting educational institutions and schools in producing younger generations who are willing to work. The report outlines both ‘fundamental skills’ and ‘workplace competencies’ to include: basic, thinking, personal qualities, resources, interpersonal, information, systems technology skills (SCANS, 2001).
The above skills are no doubt invaluable to Business Education graduates. Uwameiye (1992) as cited in Imeokparia and Ediagbonya (2009) defined Business Education as the development of appropriate knowledge, skills, attitudes and understanding required to fit into chosen occupation or occupations. There are certain competencies that are particular to Business Education graduates. For instance, secretarial and accounting competencies remain as relevant as ever before. Though dynamism in the educational system and world of work have informed innovations in the field. The extent or degree to which Business Educator possesses these skills determines his/her relevance in the world work. Thus, the need to investigate into competences needs required by graduates of Business Education in tertiary institutions to becomes employable in modern office in Ebonyi state. Therefore, this study is designed to identify the employability competencies needs required of Business Education graduates for employment in Ebonyi State.
Statement of the Problem
There have been numerous complaints about the quality of graduates produced in most tertiary vocational and technical institutions in Nigeria. Tudunwada, (2011) observed that most graduates are not properly prepared for work especially for the industries and commerce. Dikko (2008) also observed that there is a growing concern among industrialists that graduates of tertiary institutions do not possess adequate work skills necessary for employment in industries. Since the industries and the world of work are among the employers of Business Education graduates, Business education programmes should be geared toward satisfying the needs of these industries. Dikko further stated that this problem of inadequate skills among Business school graduates led to the expensive venture of opening training schools in many industries where fresh graduates are being re-trained. There is an alarming rate of unskilled graduates produced by educational institution (Olaitan, 1999).This problem of unskilled graduates lead to low productivity, poor quality product and high cost of production. It also affects the employers, employees and the economy of the nation in general. Thus, the need to investigate into competences needs required by graduates of Business Education in tertiary institutions to becomes employable in modern office in Ebonyi state. Therefore, this study is designed to identify the employability competencies needs required of Business Education graduates for employment in Ebonyi State.
Purpose of the Study:
The main purpose of this study is to examining the employability competencies needed by Business Education graduates for employment in Ebonyi State. The Specific objectives of the study are to:
- Identify the management/supervisory office Competencies needed by employers of Business education graduates in Ebonyi State.
- Identify the Bookkeeping/Accounting office Competencies needed by employers of Business education graduates for employment in Ebonyi State.
- Identify the word processing office competencies needed by employers of business education graduates for employment in Ebonyi State.
- Identify the office communication competencies needed by employers of Business education graduates for employment in Ebonyi State.
- Identify the interpersonal/human relation office competencies needed by employers of Business education graduates for employment in Ebonyi State.
Significance of the Study
This study on the office work skills needed by office education graduates in a modern office will be significant as it will reveal the office skills perceived as required by employers of labour for a successful transition from school to the world of work. Furthermore, curriculum planners and the National University Commission (NUC) and National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) will through the findings review the curriculum (minimum standard) to include current issues as they relates to Business education training especially in the provision of modern office equipment for the training of the students. Added to these, may be the need to recommend re-training of office employees on modern technology application and usage.
Government: The findings of this work will better inform the government on how to plan for the graduates in the country and to equally put the necessary machinery in place geared at repositioning the educational system to be more responsive to the needs of the society.
Researchers: This study will provide a framework for subsequent studies in this area and it will serve as reference work for researchers who intend to do similar study.
Students: The students who are major stakeholders will find this work very useful as they prepare for the world of work. It will equally serve as “eye opener” to business students/graduates who are not informed about the skills they are suppose to possess. It will also form vital part of the students’ course materials or reference materials.
Employers: The findings of this work will be of great importance to employers as it will afford them the opportunity to know the areas of weaknesses of our graduates and how to possibly organize a training programme to address this challenge.
General Public: The general public who intend to broaden their horizon as regards employability will definitely find this study a priceless companion. This will enable the public to be exposed to the nitty-gritty in employability.
Scope of the study
This study examining the employability competencies needs required of Business Education graduates for employment in Ebonyi State. The study will be delimited to private and public organisations in Ebonyi State and the respondents shall be executives/managers of the organisation
- What are the management/supervisory office Competencies required by employers of Business education graduates in a modern office.
- What are the Bookkeeping/Accounting offices Competencies needed by employers of Business education graduates for employment in Ebonyi State.
- What are the word processing office competencies needed by employers of business education graduates for employment in Ebonyi State.
- What are the office communication competencies needed by employers of Business education graduates for employment in Ebonyi State.
- What are the interpersonal/human relation office competencies needed by employers of Business education graduates for employment in Ebonyi State.
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