Even with their higher qualifications, graduates have difficulty finding satisfying work with many compelled to accept jobs in the bloated public sector, admitted the Higher Education Ministry. Despite the drop of overall unemployment in Sri Lanka from 11 percent in 1996 to 4.4 percent last year, unemployment among university graduates has remained disproportionally higher, with about 10.8 percent not having jobs.
Many experts have observed that the problem lies in the mismatch between the subject-orientated knowledge graduates learn at university and the practical skills demanded by the job market.
“While private training facilities have emerged, especially in skills like information technology, accountancy and English to help graduates acquire in demand skills, these institutions are not noted for producing youth who are adequately skilled. There is need to reform the education structure and content and fund education and skills development in areas of economically productive employment,” said Nimal Sanderatne writing about unemployment, unemployed and the unemployable - imperatives for economic development.
This is particularly true for industries such as marketing communication and advertising where the demand is for practical on the job skills, while theoretical knowledge is of little demand and even less use.
The lack of adequate professional and on the job training has created great disparity in skills and abilities between staff holding similar jobs positions. To help fill this void, award-winning ad agency Cameron Pale & Medina (CPM) is considering training unemployed graduates in skills needed and in demand in the communication industry.
On-the-job training course for graduates
CPM intends to train six hand-picked graduates who must pass an entrance exam and face an interview to be accepted for training. The six-month-long course costs a steep Rs.25,000 per month but the company guarantees employment in management positions to all graduates completing the training course.
“We’re looking for trainees with a degree qualification in web or graphic design, mass communication, literature, marketing and business studies, IT/social media management, project management, fields with some connection or relevance to communication and communication agencies,” stated J. Sittampalam, founder of CPM and lead trainer of this course.
“Every graduate trainee is guaranteed a management position in the Cameron Group Companies. With the expertise and hands on experience they gain, they would be comfortable handling duties and stress of a job in any career they choose to pursue, not just in advertising,” he added.
The course is slated to commence in May 6. The company expects to complete registrations by April 11, hold examinations the week after Sinhala – Tamil New Year and conduct interviews before the month’s end.
Training for freelance graphic and web designers
CPM also intends to offer shorter, more intensive training programmes for qualified graphic designers and web designers who are already employed or working on a freelance basis.
“Freelancers are hired for their specialty. Unlike ad agencies they don’t get the full picture of the overall plan and strategy or expectations of the client. We expect to fill this gap in their knowledge,” explained Sittampalam.
Course modules cover most of these issues including interpreting a marketing brief, understanding media planning, the role of PR and current trends in ambient marketing, TV and Radio advertising and the role of social media.
“Through our training programme freelancers can gain a greater understanding of the needs of clients and an appreciation of indirect competition, freelancers face from other service suppliers, media and ad agencies. The course, hopefully, will help them up their game and be more competitive, “he added.
Founded 18 years ago, CPM is the pioneer of inclusive communications – the only communication model purported to eliminate dissonance between direct, indirect and non-verbal communications.
The training focuses on how advertising, PR, media, branding and internal relations are used in inclusive communications for managing public perception, maintaining stakeholder relations and internal relations, as well as marketing communication and advertising.