The assumption that merely being a university graduate guarantees easy passage into the job market is not entirely true. The unemployment rate stands at 40%, with the highest percentage among the youth between the ages of 18 and 34 according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. it takes a university graduate five years to get a job in Kenya according to the British funded study on unemployment and higher education
A report released by the Commission for Higher Education informs us that more than 50,000 students graduate annually from private and public universities in Kenya. Only half of them are suitable for employment. And of these graduates, more than half are not suited to their career choice, the Inter University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) notes in a survey.
The stand by the experts that Kenyan institutions of higher learning need to tailor their courses to the national development agenda is entirely misleading. Vision 2030 is Kenya’s development blueprint to transition the country to a middle-income economy by developing the infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, among other areas. Can tailoring courses to fit the blueprint achieve the vision without job creators? Will the vision be achieved by working for already established companies or by starting up new companies that create millions on jobs for graduates while realizing the dream? Institutions need to emphasize application, creativity and most importantly entrepreneurship.
Simon Gicharu, founder and chairman of Mount Kenya University, said that the production of graduates with inadequate practical skills will negatively affect Kenya’s quest to become an industrial powerhouse over the next 18 years. He was right, however, what he should have also said is that graduates should use the practical skills to start companies in all sectors which will in the long run transform Kenya into the power house it is intended to be.
For Kenya to become an industrial powerhouse it must have industries or companies that manufacture goods and provide services that can be used worldwide. But this vision can never be realized if there are no industries that are being created, no companies that are formed or even small businesses that can solve problems while creating employment.
Kenyans join universities with an intention of gating an academic qualification that can land them a good job. But there are no more good jobs because already there are people in those positions and those people are not dead yet nor will they be soon. The end result is a university graduate with a degree in business working at a construction site. Where is the application part of the knowledge acquired, apply the knowledge to start a company or business that could create employment for other fellow graduates.
The figures are clear, there are few or no jobs in Kenya that can meet your area of expertise, and most of them are already taken. And since there are no more companies being started, one will end up unemployed for years. The idea of promising to create a million jobs without starting any companies that will employ people is as useless as the person saying it and as poor as the people it’s meant to help.
I founded The-Founder Magazine and initiatives to specifically address this problem. The founder will empower young people with knowledge, resources and necessary networks from high school to university that will enable them start, run and grow a business. By the time of graduation they graduate as successful business founders that are creating employment and not job seekers.