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Graduates suck at written English

A tracer study conducted on University of Namibia and Polytechnic graduates, who completed their studies between 1999 and 2008, has showed that although employers do see benefits from the employment of graduates, many are not satisfied with their level of written English.
The survey, found amongst others, that a significant proportion employers do not feel that they have sufficient in depth contact with institutions of higher learning, although some satisfactory relationships do exist. Some employers feel that graduates are not adequately prepared for work. They lack experience of the workplace.
The study which was the first attempt to conduct a tracer study in the country was commissioned in September last year by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) and was officially launched this week.
“The main purpose of this study was to gain information on the current employment and economic status of the graduates and their assessment of the relevance and quality of their education within their work context,” said Dr Zedekia Ngavirue, former chairperson of the National Council for Higher Education.
He further said, the views of employers were also solicited to ascertain, particular concerning graduates scholarly abilities such as their ability to apply theoretical knowledge to concrete problems, their ability to generate and disseminate knowledge and their competitiveness measured against graduates and non degree holders from other education providers.
With regards to the interviews with the graduates, the study found that the decision to study at a particular institution is mainly influenced by its reputation; about half of the graduates obtained employment by applying for a vacant position while four out of five began the search for employment before graduation. Most graduates contacted up to three employees before their first employment.
The survey also found that nearly 60% of graduates had not changed their employer since graduation and that only 1% are self-employed.
According to Ngavirue, based on the information provided by the graduates and employers  recommendations were made, amongst others collaboration and in-depth dialogue with employers should be intensified. Post studies and the research capacity of the institution should also be discussed with employers.
“Higher education institutions should assist students to find employment before they leave the institution. Exposure to all possible employers in a particular industry should be facilitated. The NCHE should rapidly commission a narrower tracer study to find unemployed graduates,” he said.
He added that the matter of improved standards of written English should receive attention across the board.
“Special efforts and arrangements including curriculum change, special compensatory courses and guidance to all lecturers may have to be made until such time as students enter higher education with better levels of written English. Additional attention should be focused on improving internships, work experience and exposure of students to employers and workplaces,” said Dr Ngavirue.

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