Varsities and employers team up to resolve skills mismatch
DAILY NATION By OUMA WANZALA
Thursday April 06, 2017
Universities have teamed up with employers to resolve a mismatch between skills impacted in students and the demand in the market.
The objective is to network and link leaders from industry and universities for sustainability.
The initiative, university-industry sustainability platform, was launched at a conference organised by Pan Africa Christian (PAC) University in partnership with Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and Visions of Hope for Africa.
Speaking at the event on Friday, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, commended the partnership saying it will play an important role to address the skills gap between academia and the industry.
Mr Mucheru applauded industry leaders who are already partnering with universities in various sustainable projects.
“I call upon industry stakeholders to forge more partnerships and continue working together not only to restore a positive perception of graduates but also to equip the academia, students and industry players with necessary skills,” said the CS.
He added that the ministry will continue to work together with other ministries, the education sector and industry stakeholders through designing programmes and developing projects to equip students with digital skills.
Mr Mucheru urged participants to make use of digital platforms to air their views, showcase their projects and understand industry needs noting that graduates could also easily access thousands of jobs on various online platforms.
PAC University Vice Chancellor Prof Margaret Muthwii said that Universities and Colleges are under obligation to ensure that every student graduating has the requisite skill-sets and competencies required in Industry.
“Anything less than that is tantamount to recklessness in the task of offering higher education,” said Prof Muthwii.
She noted that ecosystems within which jobs operate are constantly changing and therefore industry and business models must transform to cope with the accelerated pace of disruption brought about by technology, demography and socio-economic factors.
“What we knew 'how to do very well’ yesterday, is no longer relevant today. Today, employers are constantly looking for new skills and at the same time shelving skills which they had invested heavily in in previous years,” added Prof Muthwii.
She said that the value for university education is to see how graduates apply themselves to their work and called for frequent forums for interaction between students, university and industry to ensure that the expected skills requirements are met.
KEPSA Chief executive officer Carole Kariuki said the initiative will create an opportunity for private sector to sit side by side with government leaders, leaders from different academic institutions and scholars to discuss the challenges that ail the education system and the gaps between the education system and the industry.
“For us to do that and ensure sustainability, we must work together to align the universities to emerging trends in ICT; we must increase our investment to research equipment and facilities, qualified tutors, and form a comprehensive strategy for technology transfer, access to affordable ICT, and facilitate hands-on-experience through internships with the private sector, mentorships, incubation, among others.” said Ms Kariuki.
She added that the education system holds the key to future prospects for sustainable growth and development and called on all parties to work together to improve the quality of human resource, spark innovation and reduce youth unemployment.
Ed Fischer, Chief executive officer and founder of Visions of Hope for Africa said that his organisation will continue to work closely with institutions of higher learning in Kenya to support innovative projects that work towards producing effective graduates in their respective fields.