Survey reveals skills that will earn you a job faster

Kenya is still struggling with a severe shortage of quality and relevant skilled workforce, despite having one of the best educated pool of labour force in the world, a new study has disclosed.

A partnership between Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), Africa Digital Media Institute (ADMI), and Nexford University, the survey identifies information and communication technology (ICT) and finance sectors as the most affected.

The report sheds light on the critical intersection of education and industry needs and explores the ever-evolving demands for skills within the nation’s workforce.

Tailored to capture the dynamic skills landscape, it zeroed in on FKE members spanning diverse sectors, amassing robust participation from 521 enterprises.

The findings underscore a palpable shortage of skilled professionals, with the ICT sector leading the charge at 28.4 per cent closely trailed by Finance and Business Management at 27.4 per cent. Engineering at 19.2 per cent, Transportation, Distribution and Logistics (18.6 per cent), and Legal (18.2per cent) also surfaced as sectors grappling with skill deficits.
Critical intersection

“This report sheds light on the critical intersection of education and industry needs. As we navigate the evolving demands of the workforce, it is imperative for educational institutions, businesses, and policymakers to collaborate in shaping an agile and skilled workforce that can drive innovation and sustainable economic growth,” said Laila Macharia, CEO and co-founder of ADMI.

Macharia emphasized the report’s pivotal role in aligning education with industry needs. Undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degrees took the spotlight as the predominant educational qualifications sought by enterprises, claiming a significant 43.8 per cent.

Following closely behind was Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) at 34.9 per cent. Notably, the study delved into specific TVET skills, revealing a heightened demand in transport and logistics (21.3 per cent), electrical (21.1 per cent), and building and construction (18.2 per cent).

Jacqueline Mugo, FKE chief executive, highlighted the urgency of addressing the evolving labour market dynamics, shedding light on the paradoxical challenge of high unemployment rates coexisting with difficulties in finding suitably skilled workers.

She said with technological changes, labour market dynamics are evolving faster than ever and the mismatch between workers’ skills and those required by available jobs has become a top priority policy concern. “As such, many employers report difficulties finding suitably skilled workers, even though the unemployment rate is high,” Mugo added.

Social skills such as effective communication (49.1 per cent), critical thinking (41.7 per cent), teamwork (25.7 per cent), and time management (23.4 per cent) surfaced as pivotal according to surveyed enterprises. A notable 73.1 per cent of the enterprises deployed training initiatives to bridge the skills gap, often collaborating with external organisations in capacity-building endeavors.

The report revealed that 20 per cent of enterprises grappled with hard-to-fill vacancies, prompting some to hire candidates with qualifications below initial requirements (9.6 per cent). Manufacturing industries emerged as particularly challenged in filling positions.

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