In a bid tackling Sierra Leone’s perennial employment challenges from especially among youth and college graduates, the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Coalition and others have hosted the first Job Fair in Sierra Leone.
The job fair was held last Thursday 19th April 2018, at the British Council Auditorium at Tower Hill, Freetown.
TVET Coalition is an alliance composed of government institutions, training providers, international donors, the private sector, International Non Governmental Organizations (INGOs) and bi/multilateral organizations.
The overarching objective of the job fair, according to TVET, is but to support government in its mandate to improve the quality and employability of graduates in country by aligning the demand with supply of skills and competencies, while creating an environment that promotes development of the private sector and positioning Sierra Leone as an attractive investment destination.
TVET said it hosted the job fair with the focus of bringing together job seekers that are currently in secondary schools/vocational institutions and potential future employers.
“The Job fair has given employers the chance to address a large audience indicating their staffing needs, selection criteria and the opportunities to potential future employees. It brought vocational institutes and other training providers to the platform for students to find out where to study what a specific job requires.
This way the Coalition aims to establish a clear pathway for students to become outstanding employees,” says TVET.
During the job fair, there was a chance for job seekers to attend a range of practical workshops run by Africell, Cordaid, Sierra Rutile, UNDP, UNFPA covering a range of areas from enhancing skills needed for finding jobs in the different sectors to empowering oneself.
The British Council also offers the opportunity for an on-line test to measure the English communication skills of job seekers necessary for effective employment.
The job fair brought together hundreds of job seekers with training providers and private and public sector institutions along with government, NGOs and other organizations.
500 job seekers registered for the job fair with 25 booths representing over 100 employers and 14 key sponsors including the British Council, Welthungerhlife, UNDP, UNFPA, and Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone, Africell, GTZ, Cordaid, Sierra Rutile, Save the Children, Total and Afrigas.
“Interest in the job fair has been enormous with far more wishing to participate both as job seekers and sponsors than we can accommodate this first time around,” Maryam Darwich of Afriquai HR Solutions, Sijerly Pereira of Schooling for Life and Simon Ingram Hill of the British Council together emphasized.
In an interview with one of the job seekers, Haroun Kamara, a final year Higher National Diploma (HND) student, he described the job fair as timely because it gives them the opportunity to interact with potential employers.
He said the job fair can also help to reduce the protracted and cumbersome bureaucracy involved in the process of getting job.
Quality Assurance Officer, EcoMed, George Anyetei Otchere, said the job fair has given potential employers and employees the forum to interact for the mutual benefit of both parties.
He furthered that the job fair also gave EcoMed the opportunity to showcase their facilities including laboratory testing and to inform the public what they are offering, adding that they appreciate the platform of meeting many job seekers but however maintained that many of them are not certain about the type of jobs they want.
Project Delivery Coordinator British Council, Umaru Fofana, said this is the first time they have organized such a job fair in the country, adding that such an event is important because it gives job seekers the opportunity to meet with potential employers and submit their CVs.
He said some of the institutions have vacancies at the moment, while others say they will contact suitable job seekers in the future as and when the need arise.
National Youth Commissioner, Anthony Koroma, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Job Fair said the objective of the event was to support government in creating more employment for graduate and others, especially in the area of technical and vocational.
He noted that there are many job seekers out there but employment is not readily available for all of them, saying another aim of the event was to explain to young people what is required of them and how they can make themselves more employable.
He said at the moment, the Youth Commission in collaboration with others like Cordaid has been training youth on self employment skills and entrepreneurship and even providing them with start-up kits in Waterloo, Bo and Makeni.