The skills gap in Kenya's job market is a cause for concern with the latest reports indicating a widening gap.
Although the size of the skills gap in Kenya is unknown because detailed research hasn’t been done, industry sources have made it clear that they are struggling to fill posts.
In Turkana County for example, where most upstream petroleum operations are taking place, the high unemployment rate is linked to the mismatch between workforce skills and new employment opportunities.
While students decry the lack of employment opportunities, employers are also on record expressing concern that the majority of Kenyan graduates are not employable.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), approximately 800,000 young Kenyans enter the labour market every year.
Youth unemployment is estimated to be as high as 35%, compared to the overall national unemployment rate of 10%.
The latest Covid-19 Impact on Employers Survey Report 2020 by the Federation of Kenyan Employers revealed that most organizations (approximately 31%) had shifted 20% of their operations to online platforms.
This has resulted in redundancies as more and more office functions are automated. One major challenge in addressing the skills gap is the lack of quality vocational training.
To address this, the national government has set up 845 accredited technical and vocational education and training institutions, however, most of the courses offered are not aligned with global standards.
There is also demand for workers with more general business skills, including information technology, accounting and project management.
Most universities in Kenya don’t focus enough on practical skills, and there’s a bias towards social sciences.
Because of this mismatch, even when there’s skilled labour, the skills aren’t the right ones or are inadequate. Employers can’t rely on certificates from formal technical and vocational institutions as a guide to an individual’s actual competencies.
Many businesses reported that the business environment before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic was either fair, good or superb.
However, the pandemic has adversely affected a majority of aspects of their operations forcing them to adopt a number of mitigating measures to shield them from the adverse effects of the pandemic.
Some of these measures included reduction of staff numbers, hiring freeze, reduction and/or delayed increase in wages or bonuses, sending employees on unpaid leave and a reduction in staff development costs.
The pandemic has changed the way organizations conduct their operations. These changes include tele-working and embracing the use of ICT.
More firms now have a significant proportion of their staff working via online platforms, virtual interaction with public authorities.
Moving forward most organizations acknowledge that it will not be business as usual and they need to automate more of their operations.
Most organizations acknowledge that there needs to be a shift in how they conduct their operations and this is evidenced by their admission that they will likely introduce new advanced technologies in their operations after Covid-19.
To mitigate the threat posed by the widening skills gap, the government has been developing more, specialised training centres.
The Kenyan government has also been collaborating with some private sector players to implement capacity building initiatives. These engagements seek to provide Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) as an alternative for sustainable development to achieve vision 2030.
This article has been adopted from Kenyans.co.ke
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