Opening Speech Delivered at the official launching ceremony of LICAN initiative in Monrovia–May 1, 2019

Speech Delivered by Mrs. Patience Coleman Beyan, Chief Executive Ambassador (CEA) at the Official Launching Ceremony of the Liberia Career Advancement Network (LiCAN initiative) 


Career Advancement Symposium commemorating the celebrations of International Labour’s Day; Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at the YMCA in Monrovia Under the Theme: What 21st Century Skillsets are employers looking for?

To our Launchers:

[Rev. Dr. Katurah York Cooper(Founder of HOPE and Pst of TETAMEC)
[ ]Mrs. Vivian McGill(Gender Justice Specialist, UNDP)

To our Speakers:
[ ]Hon. Elias Shoniyin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, RL
[ ]Ms. Mariama Kamara, Manager, Recruitment & Performance Management Liberia Revenue Authority
[ ]Madam Rose Wende, Head Human Resource Department, Ecobank
[ ]Mr. Samuel Karyah, President, Mandela Washington Fellowship Liberia

To our guest Partners:
[ ]Mr. Smile Kwawukume, Public Sector Specialist, World Bank
[ ]Mr. Amos William, President of the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY)
[ ]Ms. Kebbeh Tumosiayah, Country Communications Officer, Mercy Corps
[ ]Mr. Kelvin Banda, Principal Economist, AFDB
[ ]Mr. Bai Best, Executive Director, Daily observer
[ ]Mr. Martin Stewart, CEO- Survival Fitness
[ ]Ms. Facia Harris, Founder, Paramount Young Women
[ ]Ms. Esther Sackie, LYANSUD
[ ]Youth for Change
[ ]Girls for Change

[ ]To all of our participants who applied via Facebook, event brite and our website [ ]All protocols observed!

Good morning everyone.

As Co-founder and Chief Executive Ambassador (CEA) of the Liberia Career Advancement Network (Li-CAN initiative), let me on behalf of our team:

[ ]Barrister /Sollicitor Meo D. Beyan, Co-Founder and Board Chairman
[ ]Mrs. Vivian McGill, Executive Board Member
[ ]Mrs. Serdia Wollor, Executive Board Member
[ ]Dr. Edwin Gbargaye, Executive Board Member
[ ]Mr. Prezton Vaye, Programme Ambassador, events & projects
[ ]Mrs. Worto Freeman Glasgow, Programme Ambassador, Financial Management
[ ]Ms. Harriette Thomas, Programme Ambassador, Gender
[ ]Mrs. Rebecca Major, Programme Ambassador, Organizational Development
[ ]Ms. Claudia Cephas, Programme Ambassador-Membershio
[ ]Ms. Sabbady Wilson, Programme Volunteer
[ ]Ms. Precious Wahpoe, Programme Volunteer
[ ]Ms. Olive Dalieh, Programme Volunteer
[ ]Mr. Robert D Coleman Jr. Programme volunteer
[ ]Ms. Evelyn Sayekain, Programme

welcome you all to our 1st career symposium and grand launching ceremonies. Li-CAN initiative is a social enterprise non-for profit organization established to leverage the power of networks and to foster career advancement opportunities for youths in transition from school to work.

Today is World Labour/workers Day and for those of us who are not aware, this day is declared as a holiday in almost 80 countries around the world, to celebrate the great achievements of workers, working in different fields. “Happy international  workers day” to all of our current and prospective workers.

We are here today for two reasons

  • to hold a career symposium under the theme: what 21st century skillsets are employers looking for?, which is the beginning of setting the agenda on the urgent need for well-designed pre-employment strategy and opportunities for young people in order to shape policies on the practicality of curriculum impact on learning and strategic investments in human capital
  • and the second thing we are here for is to formally launch this noble network.

Before we get into the symposium aspects where our amazing speakers will deliver their messages, let me let you all know that LiCAN professionals are troubled about the current statistics concerning workforce development and graduate unemployment.

As a network, our concerns are aligned with the world’s agenda of “Leaving No one behind” SDG 8 talks about decent work while SDG 17 talks about partnerships for all the goals.

To be very specific and direct, there are some troubling statistics about our country and about us as college graduates that I need to bring to your attention. If we are not the generation that can fix it, then who will?.

Here we are:

Liberia HDI according to UNDP 2018 report is 0.435, placing Liberia at 151 place out of 158 countries below average for countries in the low human development category. This means that, we have poor life expectancy rate, lack of access to knowledge and years of education and domestic income earnings are way below average.

We also know that Liberia is a youthful nation but with lots of challenges. Between the ages of 15 and 35 make up (1/3) of the population as youths. But, half of young Liberians who seem to be working are working in poor quality, unskilled employment making it hard for Liberia to make most of its economic potential. Unemployment situations are killing us.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) school to work transition survey (STWTS) and the Labour Demand Enterprise Survey (LDES) reports that the largest share of youth aged 15-35 in the country that has completed education at secondary school level is 45% of total youth and Only 8% of young Liberians complete college annually.

Isn’t this a bad trend for all of us?

 “If knowledge is power as we always say, then learning should be our super power”. There’s a difference between being educated by getting the degree in your hands as compared to learning and putting it into practice so that others can benefit. Graduates must put themselves in the position to inspire others and to make the changes we deserve.

Let me refresh your minds a little before I conclude further:

  • When you are a smart person in college and always the dux of everyone, it seems as though no one is at your level. Actually you are right, no one is at your level because in an academic institution, being successful means making good grades and this is why your grades determine whether you graduate or not;
  • But, in the real world, this is different, you get overturn by people who can find their way whether educated or not. This is not a special case for Liberia. It happens all over the world but very prevalent here. In other societies, merit based processes are stronger. It’s time to wake up and take the lead; You need to balance the technical knowledge and the knowledge of finding your way in the real world;

But listen carefully to this. Another study done by the ILO shows that young Liberians spend an average of 6 years in transition from school to work and in hunt for job.

But here the part that makes me feel bad.

We all at some point argues that without a boost of private sector investment, jobs cannot be created. Again this is really true. But do you know that as graduates we are also part of the problem?

  • My fellow young graduates, did you know that as a result, of the inability to meet the demand for certain jobs through the local market for hard to fill vacancies ,employers have resulted in having to import foreign labour (25% foreigners). Did you know that, this can be exploited?
  • Moreover, the research says that, despite the fact that on average you stay unemployed for over 6years after graduation, you are still not serious to find job. Instead of taking serious professional steps, you heavily rely on family and friends to find work for you. Only 1/3 of unemployed youth used more formal methods of finding work including those who registered at employment centre (7.8%), who answered advertisement (13.4%) or took test (3.7%) or made direct enquiries at places of business (8.5%).
  • Please, let’s stop limiting yourselves to Liberia. The world is a global village. If you are not working, you could be studying overseas. You must be prepared to benefit from a Merit system as well as other systems of reality.

If I tell you these things, I really mean it. Its because I know its possible and doable.

  • Standing here today, I am a Mandela Washington Fellow—which means I was selected on a merit based level to go and have some conversations through a townhall meeting with Former US President Barack Obama as one of the best Africa has produced
  • I am also an Australian Development scholar. I studied at an Australian University on a Merit Based recruitment scheme and you know what, I proved it there, my grades gave me the opportunity to return with two masters instead of one. I have a Master in Public Policy and a Master of Diplomacy from the Australian National University(ANU).
  • Why all this was happening, I was told not to even bother applying for a job with World Vision Australia because no African has ever worked with them before. Guess what, I got the job, became best promoter and can get recommendations from WVA if I ever request.

I can go on and on with several successful stories only because of one thing, I took the hardest part—I prepared myself for the merit aspects of the system plus I can find my way in the real world;

Why am I saying all of this?

 In a competitive culturally diverse and increasingly internationalized workplace, graduates can no longer assume that possession of a college degree will naturally lead to employment.

There has been a shift now in the mindset of employers who seek to employ graduates with employability skills and attributes in addition to traditional expertise within their discipline. On average, research says that professionals will need about 101 days of retraining and upskilling in the period up to 2022.

Are you ready for this?

  • The future projection for Africa as a whole seem very bright according to the World Bank and the World Economic Forum
  • By 2020, Africa is expected to have the largest workforce in the world, 40% which consist of young people.
  • Hence, we need to create a better match between the needs of the economy and the skills of the people.
  • LICAN initiative is here to help you—we will put this on the national agenda and we will provide a platform where you can as well be a part of the solution.
  • During our pre-launch message later during this meeting, we will tell you exactly what our programs are and how each of you can join and support us.

Now, it’s time to hear from our speakers:

We have four inspirational speakers, two amazing launchers and a supportive host of local and international partners here at this event.

I therefore end with our team favourite quote: “No matter what life throws at you, learn to stay skil1fully fit for the Job market”.

I thank you!


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