Mutare — ZIMBABWE's education system produces over 300 000 graduates yearly with colleges and universities adding another 50 000 most of whom are failing to secure employment, Forestry Commission commissioner Paul Chimbodza has said.
Mr Chimbodza was speaking at the 20th joint graduation for Forest Industries Training Centre and the Zimbabwe College of Forestry held in Mutare on Friday during which 24 men and 10 women graduated after successfully completing their training.
"The majority of these graduates do not find formal employment after completing their studies leaving between 70 to 80 percent of them unemployed. The training and skills gained at FITC and ZCF should transform our unemployment statistics to comparable levels to those obtaining in the region," he said.
Mr Chimbodza said securing jobs posed the biggest challenge for graduates in Africa due to economic challenges that afflict most of the continent's economies. He added that FITC and ZCF had transformed their curricula aligning it towards training for sustained employment creation and entrepreneurship.
"The current curricula include a number of tailor-made business courses to spearhead entrepreneurship skills, primary wood processing and value addition of timber and non-timber forest products," said Mr Chimbodza.
The training conducted at FITC and ZCF, he said, imparted an entrepreneurship culture to students that enables them to seek business and job opportunities in the various facets of the economy. He also challenged the graduates to position themselves in a manner that allows them to exploit business opportunities whenever they arise.
"In their entrepreneurial pursuits, college leavers face obstacles like lack of initial capital and the difficulty of securing appropriate business contracts."
He challenged the graduates to use the skills and knowledge they acquired to fully exploit business opportunities in related areas of their specialisation.
"The forestry sector has excellent opportunities for the participation of small businesses. For instance, sub-contracting activities such as nursery establishment, silvi-cultural operations, logging and mobile sawmilling are some of the available opportunities," said Mr Chimbodza.