Quazi Fahmee Naz identifies the missing link between students not getting a job and employers not finding candidates
For two years Nafisa Habib went without a job after completing her undergraduate studies in business administration from a private university. She applied to at least five companies for a position and was called in a few of them, only without a confirmation for a job in any of them. Habib eventually chose to start her Master’s in business administration, hoping it would enrich her knowledge while she struggles finding a suitable job. Habib’s plight however, is not isolated. Graduates from private and public universities tell New Age Youth that in spite of securing a good CGPA, they are either not called in for an interview or even if they are, they end up not getting a job.
Fresh graduates and employers share with New Age Youth that high scores are only an indicator but landing a job requires more than that.
‘We don’t look for high CGPAs and references. A combination of potential and reflection of those skills is what we want. When an employer hires, they visualise where you will be and how you will perform two steps higher than the position sought,’ says Tahseen Zakaria, head of talent acquisition at Airtel Bangladesh Ltd.
Irrespective of the potential a candidate has, Shayla Maliha Akhter, who graduated in fashion designing from a private university, however, believes it is very difficult to get a job unless you have connections.
Sheuli Sikder, a post-graduate with outstanding results from Jahangirnagar University, could not get herself a position of a junior lecturer in the university when she applied. Sikder believes references and political camps have a strong influence in places like her university while hiring teachers.
‘It’s not that any employer would like to have people with inadequate skills coming in with references,’ says Zakaria.
References can forward CVs and maximise a candidate’s opportunity for being called in an interview, but without the right set of skills, ‘knowing someone will not guarantee you will get a job,’ says the telecom employer.
Nabid Muktadir completed his electrical engineering from American International University Bangladesh. After studying engineering for four years and spending seven to eight lakh takas, he is now considering changing his career plans. He was prompted to contemplate changing career path when he saw that business administration students were getting more salary than what he was offered in spite of a good CGPA.
‘We have to read more, spend more money as the number of credits for engineering are higher than other subjects but when it comes to salary we are the ones squashed,’ says Muktadir.
This is not the end of suffering pangs, he says, adding that employers generally prioritize public university students over us.
When asked about the recruiting process, Fahim Mashroor, chief executive officer of the country’s largest job portal Bdjobs.com tells New Age Youth, ‘The first thing we look for in candidates while recruiting is their communication skills, whether they are active and sincere or not. These are more or less the qualities we look for in fresh candidates. CGPA and institutions are actually screening tools.’
While there is a notion that employers generally prefer candidates from public universities over private ones, Mashroor says, ‘many private universities still lack proper screening mechanism for academic qualification.’ With the number of private universities mushrooming in the country the quality of students passing out of these universities has become a concern for employers while screening applications. That said, there are also private universities that are doing well.
‘An employer wants to hire someone who is able and eager to work, someone who can continue the succession of the organisation and take it to a new level,’ he says.
A total of about 30 lakh students enrolled in 34 public and 80 private universities in 2014, says a statistic of University Grants Commission. But what is hard to digest is that a research of the British Council carried out by The Economist Intelligence Unit, published in September 2013; found that 47 per cent graduates of Bangladesh were unemployed.
A World Bank study in March 2014 said employers reported that employees were not sufficiently equipped with necessary skills. Forty percent employees do not have sufficient skills in communication, while 36 percent lagged behind in problem solving, 35 percent in team work, 27 percent in motivation and 18 percent in English language, the study found.
CGPA is a stepping stone but employers look beyond a candidate’s academic scores. While studies find a substantial percentage of graduates unemployed, experts fear the academic institutions and industry are not working in coherence to reduce this gap.