By FAITH NYAMAI

The skills gap between graduates and the job market is a worrying trend in the country with thousands of college leavers having to stay jobless for many years.
Most graduates are unable to deliver on their jobs forcing companies especially in the private sector, to introduce in-house training before absorbing them.

Research shows that there are between 500,000 to 800,000 fresh graduates entering the job market each year.

To address the gap in skills, the Ministry of Education has launched a career policy for universities to enable students to interact with the job market.

According to Cabinet Secretray (CS) Amina Mohamed, universities should come up with avenues of ensuring that graduates and alumni are given an opportunity to mentor students and impart skills that will help them create employment opportunities after campus.

In June, the CS launched the ministry’s office of career services and ordered all universities to set up offices.

The University of Nairobi (UoN) was the first to launch the career fair that will see students linked to industry players.

It is aimed at nurturing students and graduates towards a better and more fulfilling future.

According to the UoN Vice Chancellor Peter Mbithi, the institution will engage at least 10 companies, have monthly workshops at the campus and organise two extensive career fairs annually.

“We cannot afford to have graduates who cannot meet the industry skills demand and it is for this reason that the university is at the fore front to equip our students with quality education and skills,” said Mr Mbithi.

Zetech university has launched the Zetech Ajira Digital club that will see students empowered to use technology to create employment and bridge the skills gap.

Vice Chancellor Njenga Munene said the university supports the initiative to create digital work and raise the profile of online jobs as a way of providing employment.

“Our students will take advantage of the opportunities to secure employment and meet their basic needs.” said Prof Munene.

The programme is part governments Ajira digital project recently initiated by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology to bridge the gap between skills demand and lack of jobs.

“We are encouraging students from our various faculties to participate, build their skills and earn some money,” he said.

The Ministry of Education has been championing the need to have technical and vocational institutions expanded to allow graduates to join and acquire the required skills after graduation.

Lack of enough vocational training has been cited as among the major reasons why graduates are unable to fit in the market.

According to the CS, more than 500,000 will be placed in Technical and Vocational Centres (TVCs) by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) annually.

The government aims to raise the capacity, competitiveness and relevance of technical training to meet entrepreneurship need in partnership with the private sector, particularly Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector.

The value of the MSME’s output is estimated at Sh3 billion against a national output of Sh9.9 billion representing a contribution of 33.8 per cent in 2015.

In terms of gross value added, MSMEs are estimated to have contributed Sh1.7 billion compared to Sh5.6 billion for the whole economy.

The Cs said, there is high potential for creating more employment with growth and expansion of MSMEs raising the need to have partnerships between universities and technical universities.

So far, there are 203 technical institutions while 15 more will be established by the end of the year.

The ministry also plans to build 47 polytechnics in each of the counties; this is expected to increase the number of trainees annually.

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