Time Journal of Arts and Educational Research
TJAER Abstract - Silvanos Chirume

The researcher has been teaching BSc Mathematics and Statistics (BSMS) students of the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) since 2007. Through day-to-day interaction and informal interviews with some students and employers within the city of Gweru, it was noted that most of the students who graduated after studying through open and distance learning (ODL) continued in their former career positions, the majority of them being teachers and few found better employment elsewhere. The majority of the graduates also seemed not to be able to create their own employment. Therefore, this study sought to investigate how employability skills of BSMS ODL graduates could be enhanced. Fifteen former and current students and fifteen employers who were purposively sampled responded to an open-ended email questionnaire. Their views were grouped into themes and qualitatively analysed using content analysis techniques. The respondents mentioned that the BSMS programme needed to have the research project component, that students had to be taught how to be creative, innovative and dedicated to practical work, and that they had to have theoretical as well as hands-on computer knowledge. The respondents also encouraged employers to form partnerships with universities and to engage students on attachment at their companies. In light of the findings and conclusions, the study recommends that the ZOU BSMS programme be biased towards Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related courses and activities which can empower students to be inventors, innovators and problem solvers. It is also recommended that the Government’s concept of ZimAsset which is intended for employment creation and economic growth can be realised if ZOU and employers work together towards enhancing employability skills of BSMS graduates.

Keywords: employability skills, employment creation, BSc Mathematics and Statistics, ODL graduates, STEM-related courses, ZimAsset.

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