Mother Uganda is presumed to have over 10 million unemployed graduates in 2014 with the figure expected to rise exponentially to over 16 million by 2016. It is also statistically true that Universities, colleges, Technical institutions send out to the streets about 400,000 graduates every year. For every single job opening advertised in the newspapers, over 300 graduates apply for it even when only one of them will be recruited.
It is there utter luck for one to get a job with a better salary, job security and good benefits in a world of competition like the above therefore for one to succeed, there is need to have a cutting edge. In addition to your university Bachelors or Masters degree, it is imperative that you join a professional association for numerous benefits.
While applying for a job, employers require applicants to provide professional references often by one’s former employer but for a student who may have not had any job experiences, recommendation by a professional association related to your degree carries more value for it shows that one is serious and committed to their profession.
It is also easier to get lucrative job opportunity under a professional association than through individual sourcing. If an employer (also professional) is seeking to recruit Human Resource Managers for example, an inquiry will be sent to the Human Resource Managers Association of Uganda for names of unemployed members. The same goes for other associations and this accessibility provides numerous job opportunities for one to tap and benefit from.
Besides the job opportunities to work with your professional peers, it is easier for one to access fellow members of the association from whom you get plenty of professional advice, make free consultations, expand your professional network and learn how interact, encounter challenging work related issues free of charge. In today’s employment world, a strong professional network is vital to sail through several hardships as opposed to social networks that most students are heavily invested in building.
While you could access work related and career advancement information elsewhere, a professional association in an avenue where collaborations present a combination of education interactions that guarantees you knowledge on the developments in your field of work which will enable you to be flexible and dynamic, an advantage you will posses over your competitors in the job market.
Through membership to professional associations, one will get free training opportunities and accreditation to international networks from where one will get exposure to different work situations, shape their work ethic.
Professional associations intervene on behalf of their members in case of unfair work conditions, harsh and unfair dismissals, stringent contract terms, poor wages which would be rather hard to pull off individually with several choosing to ignorantly endure them for lack of where to start.
The history of the May 1st Labour Day is built on situations where labourers rebelled in one voice situations like the above but had they not been united, they never would have achieved what they did.
However much some of the Professional associations in Uganda are dormant and seemingly in active, their members are still copied into their activities, consulted for profession opinion and furnished newsletters, journals from where they are brought up the speeds to follow new work trends, attend conferences which will in turn help you to keep with the latest developments in your work area.
Though highly unlikely in Uganda, professional associations offer scholarships to their members or equally open up avenues for them to partake in leadership avenues which would be even harder if carried on individual basis. The National Institute for Journalists of Uganda (NIJU) has open portfolios in the Media Council and the Uganda Law Society (ULS) has been offered a Councillor portfolio in the Kampala Capital City Authority to offer legal oversight on Council issues so if you are a member, your associations might push you to occupy either which will even elevate you to better opportunities.
One of the reasons most graduates fail to blend in to the job market is attitude. Graduates give off thick attitude which is a danger to oneself in a way or the other. Professional associations teach how members behave prior to employment and after for one to retain that precious position. This is vital information rid the pride off a graduates’ back, teach them respect, loyalty, punctuality, flexibility among others that give an applicant a competitive advantage over their peers in the competition.
In as far as internship placements go, most associations offer internship placements or help their members especially students get internship, volunteer opportunities externally which gives them a bit of professional experience that employers require of applicants to recruit them. Internship offers not only experience but also connection, a few shillings in the wallet and even future employment at that same organisation if an intern offers a tangible service to them.
As a student, joining a professional association is even easier after acquiring your academic qualifications or after some hands on experience in your field or as an associate member.
Some of the professional associations that UCU students would find it easier to job as their courses are offered at the institution are; the Uganda Law Society, the Institute of Procurement professionals of Uganda, the Ugandan Institution of Professional Engineers, Human Resource Managers Association of Uganda, Uganda Journalists Association, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda and now the National Association of the Unemployed.