Universities and employers in various sectors have come together to find ways of boosting employment opportunities for graduates.
A forum bringing together 12 universities and 10 companies in manufacturing, financial and transport sectors at the Mount Kenya University (MKU), Thika main campus, deliberated on mechanisms of imparting the necessary skills to students so as to prepare them for the dynamic job market.
The initiative is part of a five-year project spearheaded by Leipzig University of Germany and jointly implemented by a consortium of six African universities; IRGIB Africa University, Benin, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana, Mount Kenya University, Kenya, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, INES-Ruhengeri, Rwanda and University of Tunis, Tunisia.
The two-day forum held at MKU’s Mwai Kibaki Convention Centre was supported by DAAD through the African Centre for Career Enhancement and Skills Support (ACCESS) and participants exchanged ideas on how academia and industries can share experiences in training to enhance employability skills to students.
Themed ‘Synergizing Skills: Bridging Academia and Industry for Career Excellence’ it drew participants from Karatina University, Kabarak University, Kenyatta University, Riara University, Daystar University, Technical University of Kenya, KCA University, Zetech University, Machakos University, Technical University of Kenya, Riara University, The Luke Hotel, Thika, Equity Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank, Magfre Ltd, BIC East Africa, HACO Industries.
Super Metro Buses Thika Road operations manager, Simon Gitau welcomed the initiative saying the transport industry offers many opportunities for university graduates.
“There is more to the buses that the students see on the roads ferrying passengers and there is a lot in terms of human resource management and technology development from the software’s that we use to track the buses usage and to collect and manage the customers feed backs,” said Gitau.
He welcomed the move by the Universities to go to the employers to know their market needs.
Another participant, Trizah Wainaina, the customer service manager at Equity Banks, embraced the service learning concept and suggested incorporating service etiquette training in university curriculum.
“We urge the universities and industries to come together and help each other to develop and review curriculum with an aim of meeting the market demand,” said Dr. Henry Yatich, ACCESS Coordinator, MKU.
He also urged students to obtain soft skills such as communication and presentation that are available online to make them more competitive on the job market.
The ACCESS program which is hosted in Germany supports students career enhancement, research activities, university-business linkages and service learning.
The participants engaged in discussions on how they can use technology to develop students’ skills through strengthening research and career enhancement, professional development and lifelong learning.