UFH research into probable solutions to graduate unemployment gets a nod from Pan-African research organisation

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A study by University of Fort Hare (UFH) researchers that seeks to uncover probable solutions to the continental challenge of graduate unemployment has been granted funding by the Council for the Development of Social Science (CODERSIA) in Africa to the tune of USD 15 000 (about R300 000).

The Council, a Pan-African research organisation headquartered in Dakar, Senegal aims to help African scholars to produce knowledge and give an African voice to global debates on issues affecting Africa and Africans.

The research by the Fort Hare scholars titled:  A Systematic Literature Review of University to Work Transition Research in African Higher Education Institutions (1980 – 2023), is funded under the Council’s Advanced Senior Research Grants for Higher Education Studies after submitting a winning proposal.

The scholars involved are from the Faculty of Management and Commerce, they are Prof Willie Chinyamurindi (Full Prof), Dr Juliet Townes-Puchert (Senior Lecturer), Zikhona Dlaza (PhD Candidate) Dr Angela Pike-Bowles (Time-on-Task Lecturer).

In their proposal, the scholars state that: "Several African countries are currently facing a high unemployment rate. Most affected by this are also graduates, the end product of the African higher education system. In South Africa for instance, there is a noted increase in the unemployment rate, and often affected by this are graduates from the South African higher education system (Statistics South Africa, 2021a).”

“This situation has led to calls for researchers to be more alert to not only the challenge but also the necessity for nuanced solutions that assist in addressing the challenge.”

The researchers support the integration of the entire body of work around themes related to graduates, the African higher education system and labour market interventions. “In doing so, models can be proposed whose focus and feature are to address the challenges faced especially by African graduates. Further, a need exists to ascertain the experiences of transition as faced by graduates into the labour market.”

According to the researchers, a review of the review of literature details three issues that can be addressed from such research. Firstly, the need to explore those capabilities and skills expected of African graduates and their participation in the labor market system. Secondly, to ascertain how African universities are assisting their graduates for the labour market. Thirdly, to collate all the empirical work done around university to work transition research in proposing best practice strategies on the African continent.

The primary purpose of the study, according to the researchers, is to use a systematic literature review to achieve the following:

  1. To establish the extent and nature of empirical research on university to work transition research in African higher education Institutions (1980 – 2023).
  2. To illustrate the challenges related to university to work transition on the African continent through the documented research.
  3. To showcase best practice examples of solutions to university to work transition on the African continent through documented research.

Dr Townes recently returned from Nairobi, Kenya where all the successful researchers for the programme gathered for a methodology and inception project meeting from 6 to 8 February.

At the meeting, each research team was given the opportunity to present their proposals and get preliminary input from their peers and invited resource persons.