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A Fair Approach to Jobs in Ghana


Ghanaian Returnee tackles the Challenge of Changing Ghana’s Recruitment Culture

ImageWhen Kwame Ofori-Kuragu returned to Ghana from the UK in 2006, the 35-year old Project Management graduate took with him an idea that had long been in the planning.  Frustrated by the recruitment practices he has observed in his home country, Ofori-Kuragau intends to hold a series of job fairs as a springboard to a new kind of recruitment agency designed to offer employers in Ghana access to both choice and quality.

In 1998, inspired by requests from the fellow Ghanaians he met while studying in the UK, Ofori-Kuragu established Leaders for Tomorrow.  The organisation aims at mobilising and helping to develop the human, financial and infrastructure resources that are critical to Ghana’s development.  Citing the organisation’s mission as “to promote a culture of excellence in the Ghanaian business community and to provide World Class Human Resource and Management Consulting Services”, Ofori-Kuragu now intends to provide a service placing graduates into internship and work placements as well as to source permanent jobs for young Ghanaians, both in Ghana and in the Diaspora. 

The organisation’s first venture in this area will be to hold a Job Fair for graduates at the Ghanaian University of Science and Technology, located in Ghana’s second city, Kumasi.

Speaking to ReConnect Africa, Ofori-Kuragau explains, “We are planning three job fairs; in Kumasi, at the University of Ghana and at the University of Cape Coast.  We want to create a platform for some of the best employers to interact with some of the best candidates entering the job market in the year to come.” 

“We need to change the tradition of nepotism when, if you don’t know someone, you aren’t likely to get the job.” 

Ofori-Kuragu sees the job fairs as a means for students to find out about job opportunities and halting the flow of educated young people leaving the country.  “The lack of information and access to employment impacts to a large extent on the brain drain in Ghana”, he says.  “If people don’t get jobs straight after school or university, they are tempted to travel.” 

Challenging Nepotism

Compounding a lack of access to available job opportunities is the widespread practice of nepotism.  In his view, the reliance of many companies on recruiting extended family members or through social contacts often results in poor and biased job hiring decisions by employers.

“One of our key challenges is to break the traditional approach to recruitment in Ghana – putting an ad in a paper or taking people on through word of mouth,” he says.  “We also need to change the tradition of nepotism when, if you don’t know someone, you aren’t likely to get the job.  We want to break the current culture of recruitment by showing them a different way to recruit and by presenting real opportunities for them.  The job fair provides a one-stop shop and saves companies launching their own fairs or paying for costly recruitment.”

Job Skills Training

Ofori-Kuragu concedes that job applicants also need to change their attitude and his discussions with employers in Ghana have highlighted the fact that many graduates lack the key competencies employers need.  Job applicants are often unable to demonstrate communication, teamwork, analytical, strategic and leadership skills, while employers cite a lack of commercial awareness and personal drive in many young graduates who apply for jobs.

Ofori-Kuragu and his team are planning a series of workshops and seminars for job fair participants to help develop these skills and to better prepare them for today’s job market. “As a means to add value and to better meet the needs of industry and the companies we hope will participate, we will hold the first series of workshops in the third week of August.  These will put participants in better stead with potential employers and help to distinguish them from other entrants into the job market.”

Ofori-Kuragu believes that greater objectivity in identifying talent will ultimately benefit employers and their businesses.  “On the employers’ side, we believe that this approach will present a bigger pool of talent to fish out the best candidates.  If you just employ those who approach you directly, you don’t know what else is out there.”

“We want to present a window for people abroad who can’t be at the Fair and want to return home.”

The Job Fair will also be an opportunity for students to learn first-hand the requirements of some of the best employers in Ghana.  The two day events will be held on the various university campuses. “We will be inviting students from the universities, especially all the final year students” says Ofori-Kuragu.  “Because it is happening on campus and run in partnership with the student bodies and university authorities, we will have a good pipeline of students.”

Ghanaians in the Diaspora

Linking the Job Fair to Ghanaians living outside the country is critical to Leaders for Tomorrow’s vision.

“We want to present a window for people abroad who can’t be at the Fair and want to return home.  We are looking at ways to attract the resumes of Ghanaians abroad that are looking for opportunities to re-settle and work in Ghana.  We want Ghanaians abroad to contact us and register with us so that we can put their needs forward.  Students on campus in Ghana do not need to register but should bring their CVs to the fair.  Companies working in Ghana can register to participate or express their interest in students and we will be providing space on site for interviews during the fair.”

For further information about the forthcoming job fairs, contact Kwame Ofori-Kuragu on: info@leaders-of-tomorrow-inc.com

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