Hiring fresh graduates now a costly burden, say employers
The rising cost of retraining fresh graduates joining the job market is piling up the cost of doing business for most firms.
Employers are blaming skills mismatch on a non-aligned curriculum at universities for the sorry state of affairs in the country’s job market.
The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) says a survey on members last December showed up to 70 per cent of entry-level recruits need a refresher course to understand and deliver at the workplace.
“This not only increases the costs of doing business, but also reduces productivity of the industries as new workers take long to become productive.”
The craze for university education in the past saw the majority of technical colleges turned into constituent colleges of universities, reducing supply of mid-level technical skills in the job market such as those of electricians, carpenters and welders among others.
The government has created a full-fledged Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) department in the Education ministry to develop policy for supporting growth of technicians to support the country’s industrialisation ambitions.
Further, the TVET Authority was set up in June 2014 to license, register, and accredit the institutions as well as programmes and trainers.
“We possibly made a mistake in changing our polytechnics to technical universities. I believe, hopefully if possible, we can reverse that and get back to technical training institutions where they (future job seekers) are taught hands-on technical skill sets,” Kenya Association of Manufacturers vice chairperson Sachen Gudka said in an interview last month.
Enrolment in TVET institutions nearly doubled to 275,139 in 2017 from 148,009 in 2013, the Economic Survey 2018 shows, while university intake rose 17.4 per cent to 520,893.
Ms Mugo says 90 per cent of employers in an FKE survey last December said a majority of applicants for job vacancies have more education qualifications than required, thanks to oversupply of graduates.
“If today an employer advertises for a clerical job, for instance, over 60 per cent of applicants will be graduates,” she said. “This distorts the labour markets as we end up with people hired in positions they don’t have passion for, making them less productive.”
About 83.5 per cent of the 16.9 million people in employment last year were in the informal or the jua kali sector, official statistics shows.
“The informal sector is characterised by small-scale activities, easy entry and exit due to fewer regulations, skills gained from vocational institutions, less capital investment, limited job security and also self-employment,” the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics says in the Economic Survey 2018.
The jua kali sector has been the main driver of growth in jobs over the years, accounting for nearly 90 per cent of new openings created every year.