Mismatch between Higher Education and the Employment Market in Ethiopia

The Ethiopian government concentrated on expanding higher education without due attention to the employment market. In 2013, there were 9,185 new engineering graduates but their training did not meet employer requirements. A HERQA survey in 2010 found that employers considered graduates in engineering, medicine and management were not sufficiently qualified for the work required. Graduates' only advantage was that they could be hired cheap. Higher education institutes were not responding to employer needs and there appeared to be no channel of communication between them. Furthermore, employers were overlooking recent graduates and only employing those with five years of work experience. In 2012 alone, 50,000 new graduates were released onto the job market which was too large a number to be absorbed by private or state institutions. Graduates from AAU were told to become self-employed if they could not find an employer. The African development bank sees this situation as a cause of discontent across North African countries.

It is possible to improve the match between graduate training and employer requirements when relevant organizations interact with university faculty and manage to obtain money for laboratories and equipment. The competence of medical laboratory technicians was improved in five Ethiopian universities. In-service training was too disruptive to normal services which already suffered from staff shortages. The Centre for Disease Control Ethiopia and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) together with university faculty assessed medical laboratory education. The curriculum was revised and standardized to include practical training which formed part of the final assessment. Faculty staff were trained in grant writing and quality management systems. The United States President's fund for AIDS relief provided money for equipment, including an uninterrupted power supply and consumables. Lecturers were trained to use the new curriculum, improve their teaching skills and up-date their knowledge through website resources supplied by ASCP consultants. The result was graduate laboratory technicians who were confident, competent and skilled.