Align College Syllabi with the Dynamic Demands of the Global Job Market



The recent report by the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), Africa Digital Media Institute (ADMI)and Nexford University revealing that employers are compelled to compromise on quality and hire individuals who are either less qualified or overqualified for certain tasks due to the unavailability of suitable candidates serves as a wake-up call for colleges.

It emphasizes the need for them to reevaluate their syllabuses and ensure they are up to par with the dynamic job market.

The report highlights significant skills demand in various career fields, notably information technology (28.4 percent), finance and business management (27.4 percent), engineering (19.2 percent), transportation, distribution, and logistics (18.6 percent), and legal (18.2 percent).

These fields predominantly require an undergraduate degree and technical and vocational education and training (TVET).

For instance, the survey reveals that most hard-to-fill vacancies requiring a TVET skill level are in architecture, building and construction, engineering, and transportation, distribution, and logistics, while those that mostly require a first-level university education are in information technology.

Alarmingly, the country witnesses an annual influx of graduates from various universities and colleges actively seeking employment.

However, these individuals often struggle to secure jobs due to a mismatch between their skills and the specific requirements sought by employers.

Adding to the challenge is a group of hundreds of thousands of youths released to society after clearing the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) without being placed for any course.

Every year, when KCSE results are released, the country tends to concentrate on the few students who excel, showing little concern for the majority who fail to attain the C+ (plus) grade required for university entry.

For example, of the 870,561 candidates who sat for the KCSE last year, only 285,167—less than 35 percent—succeeded in securing positions in degree, diploma, and arts courses across 282 training institutions.

The remaining 65 percent were left to decide for themselves what path they wanted to take in their lives. This has been the norm over the years, and we cannot afford to allow this trend to continue.

The country should confront the two problems simultaneously by ensuring that all young people who clear their secondary education acquire skills that can enable them to navigate the future.

Additionally, ensuring that the skills they acquire are competitive enough in the job market both in Kenya and globally is crucial.

The government has been working hard to secure employment opportunities for Kenyans abroad.

President William Ruto recently revealed that his government is determined to ensure that foreign remittances increase from USD 4 billion to USD 10 billion by having many Kenyans in gainful employment abroad. It is our responsibility to ensure that Kenyans we take abroad have the necessary skills.

It is time for college tutors to discard their old notes used to teach a decade ago. Colleges should revisit their syllabuses and eliminate lessons whose skills are already or will be obsolete in the coming five or ten years.

To close the divide between the skills employers need and the courses offered by educational institutions, it’s imperative for training facilities to join forces.

Engaging employers in the development of curricula, facilitating training through attachments, internships, and apprenticeship opportunities will empower graduates with the precise skills the industry requires.

This collaborative strategy not only addresses the current gap but also fosters a more seamless integration between academia and the professional landscape.

The author is the Head of Partnerships, Africa Digital Media Institute (ADMI).

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