Guest Post

The case of the unemployed African

This article was sent to me via email and although its not usually the type of thing I post here I found it very interesting. It is from an organisation called Universum and they claim to be the global leader in employer branding. Essentially they are in the business of branding employers so that they attract the best talent. The article below is research carried out by Universum to gain insights into what drives the mind of young Africans in regards to their career choices. My question is, is there room for this conversation considering the current levels of unemployment across Africa? Where does this conversation leave us? Does this research help the average unemployed graduate that has been job-hunting for over 5 years? Is this research necessary, or insulting to the unemployed person who will take any job they can? Is it relatable? Tell me what you think.


As world-renowned experts in employer branding, Universum Global is present in more than fifty markets globally where it conducts extensive research amongst students and young professionals. In 2015 Universum expanded this research into five African markets; Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria.  The recently released 2016 results for these regions highlights fascinating insights into the minds of young Africans.

The research was conducted between November 2015 and June 2016 across the Business, Engineering/ IT, Natural Sciences, Health Medicine, Humanities, and Law sectors. In Nigeria the research included  6,124 respondents at 27 universities, in Ghana 2,162 respondents at 20 universities and in Kenya 5,062 respondents at 24 universities.

This intensive research reveals a host similarities across the countries when compared to European or American respondents, but also some key differences between countries.

Whilst Nigerian students are very clear in their future goals across all industries, with professional training and development topping the lost for both the Business and Engineering sectors, Kenyan students, compared to their West African counterparts put an overall focus on innovation and success, as opposed to money which is the main priority for Nigerian and Ghanaian students. This sub-Saharan trend contrasts with trends in Morocco that show more of an emphasis on work-life balance and opportunities for travel.

Ghanaian students are very clear in their future goals across all industries with leadership opportunities topping the list for both the Business and Engineering sectors. Similarly, across sectors, students in Ghana, like their Nigerian counterparts, are looking for the opportunity to be entrepreneurial and creative in the workplace.

The research in Africa also reveals distinctive trends compared to Universum’s research in Europe and the USA, “Young talent in Sub-Saharan Africa have very different priorities compared to young talent in for example Europe and the USA. They are less focused on achieving work life balance and more interested in starting their own business and being the drivers of the own success. The implications of this for businesses are massive and those that manage to foster a sense of entrepreneurship and provide dynamic and innovative opportunities for young people are sure to be the winners in the war for talent” says country manager for Universum South Africa, Jenali Skuse.

Universum’s research across Africa is highlighting a number of insights that employers looking to do business across the continent need to take into account when reaching out to talent. It is clear that although there may be similarities across regions, every country has its own unique characteristics that need to be understood.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s