The role of social capital in the employability of university graduates in Zambia: a case of university of Zambia graduates (2000 - 2015).

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Machacha, Eliphas C.
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The University of Zambia
The research presented in this thesis was designed to investigate the role of social capital in the employability of University Graduates in Zambia: A Case of University of Zambia Graduates. The study focused on the period between the years 2000 and 2015. The rationale for targeting this period was based on the following reasons. First, according to official statistics, formal employment in Zambia had declined to just about 10% of the labour force in 2001 from approximately 75% in 1975, due to two major factors, namely the economic decline the country experienced between 1975 and 1991, and the economic reforms of the new Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) Government between 1991 and 2001. Secondly, the liberalisation of higher education in Zambia, particularly university education, in the early 2000s, and the subsequent establishment of new public and private universities in the country to operate alongside the oldest universities in the country, namely the University of Zambia (UNZA) and the Copperbelt University (CBU). The thesis contends that the role that social capital plays in the employability of University of Zambia Graduates needed to be examined following the decline in formal employment coupled with the opening up of higher education in the country. Social capital was operationalised as social connections that can be used in search of jobs in the labour market. Employability was operationalised as special and individualised skills, abilities and attitudes which job seekers must possess to enable them obtain jobs in Zambia (that is the ability to get a job in the labour market). This research used a sequential mixed method research design to empirically examine the research problem. The study was carried out in the City of Lusaka. Accordingly, this approach incorporated both quantitative and qualitative methods in the sampling, collection and analysis of data. The study population included University of Zambia Graduates, male and female, who had graduated from the University between the years 2000 and 2015 inclusive. There was a total of 208 University of Zambia Graduates who participated in this study. The study participants were in formal employment at the time of the study. The sample was randomly picked using the University of Zambia Alumni register as a sampling frame. In addition, 16 employers or their representatives were purposefully picked from the private and public sectors, and Civil Society Organisations as informants for in-depth interviews; for richer insights into the role of social capital in the employability of University of Zambia Graduates. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was used in the management and analysis of quantitative data while thematic analysis was applied in the analysis of qualitative data. The results from this study indicated that UNZA Graduates attach a lot of importance to the use of social connections in search of job opportunities in the labour market. However, the study revealed that only powerful social connections were effective in this process and were not available to everyone looking for a job. The study showed that socioeconomic status was a significant factor in the accumulation of social capital and its use in finding employment among University of Zambia Graduates, regardless of the field of study in which they specialised while studying at the University. The results also discovered that where such social connections were available, there were disparities in the effectiveness of these social connections depending on the type of people who were involved in the network. Social connections through close relatives and close friends were more effective in helping UNZA Graduates find jobs than social connections through acquaintances and potential employers. Social connections with potential employers were believed to be somehow difficulty to build or create by UNZA Graduates as individuals on their own. In conclusion, this study showed that social connections facilitated by relatives and close friends through people of influence in society were more effective but depended heavily on one’s social status.
PhD Thesis
Social capital--Employability of university graduates. , Full employment policies--Zambia. , Social capital--Employment. , Youth--Employment--Zambia--Lusaka.