Public and Private Universities forge new partnership to bridge industry skills gap in Kenya

By Soko Directory Team / Published March 29, 2017 | 1:11 pm



Education System Continent

Kenyan universities have joined hands with leading industry stakeholders to launch a sustainability platform in an effort to curb the growing and worrisome trend of skills gap. The university-Industry sustainability platform was launched today at the first university-industry sustainability conference organized by Pan Africa Christian (PAC) University in partnership with Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and Visions of Hope Africa for Africa.

The objective of the conference is to network and link leaders from industry and universities for sustainability. Participants discussed their needs, shared best practices between industry and academia, showcased university-industry projects and innovations that impact the community and develop a university-industry sustainability model for Kenya.

Speaking during the opening of the conference, ICT Cabinet Secretary Mr. Joe Mucheru commended the partners for playing an important role to address the skills gap between academia and industry.

Mr. Mucheru applauded industry leaders who are already partnering with universities in various sustainable projects.  He called upon industry stakeholders universities 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. “My ministry will continue to work together with other ministries, the education sector and industry stakeholders through designing programs and developing projects that equip students with digital skills” said Mr. Mucheru.

The Cabinet Secretary urged participants to make use of digital platforms such as the just launched university- industry sustainability platform to air their views, showcase their projects and understand industry needs. He said graduates could also easily access thousands of jobs on various online platforms.

Prof. Margaret Muthwii, Vice Chancellor of PAC University, in her remarks observed that Universities and colleges are under obligation to ensure that every student graduating from Kenya’s institutions of higher learning 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.

She notes that ecosystems within which jobs operate are constantly changing; 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 previous years. “Because of this dynamic nature of industry, university programs must be re-engineered, restructured and re-defined to align to the needs of industry. The pursuit to bridge the skills gap is an urgent matter; it must drive us towards excellence in what is offered in education and we know that we cannot do this without a constant conversation and collaboration between University and Industry”, adds Prof Muthwii.

CS ICT Joe Mucheru launches the University Industry Sustainability platform. Looking on (L-R) Ed Fischer founder visions of hope for Africa ,  Vice Chancellor PAC University  Prof Margaret Muthwii,   Ms.Carole Kariuki KEPSA CEO and  Daniel Murithi
CS ICT Joe Mucheru launches the University Industry Sustainability platform. Looking on (L-R) Ed Fischer founder visions of hope for Africa , Vice Chancellor PAC University Prof Margaret Muthwii, Ms.Carole Kariuki KEPSA CEO and Daniel Murithi

She reminded participants that the value for university education is to be seen in how graduates apply themselves to their work. She called for frequent forums for interaction between students, university and industry to ensure that the expected skills requirements are met.

KEPSA CEO, Ms. Carole Kariuki noted that this was a great opportunity for private sector to sit side by side with leaders of government, 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. She noted that the importance of university education to the growth of this country cannot be over-emphasized, “as we embark on a journey towards our Vision 2030, where we aspire for a rapidly industrializing middle income economy, we need skilled workforce to support and sustain the growth of those envisioned industries’’

“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. Therefore, it is upon all parties to work together to improve the quality of human resource, spark innovation and reduce youth unemployment.

Ed Fischer, CEO and founder of Visions of Hope for Africa, an organization that supports evangelism and social justice ministries in the area of health, Christian education and economic empowerment said that his organization 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.

According to Ed, a multifaceted understanding of sustainability is critical as Universities and Theological schools face significant changes and pressures.  Institutional sustainability entails three essential components: a viable business plan, the ability to adapt meaningfully to evolving contexts, and the capacity to sustain human leadership resources.

University education is undergoing profound introspection and transformation. The pressures facing theological and university school vice chancellors, leadership teams, faculty members, and boards continue to multiply from a dizzying number of directions.  At the same time, there seems to be an increasingly well-articulated understanding of the necessity of theological education in some form as a point of grounding and creativity for the church, government, the marketplace, and civic society.

Areas that were addressed during the conference to reduce the gap include:

  • University-Industry collaboration platform
  • Research and innovation
  • Internships and Practicum
  • University-Industry sustainability frameworks
  • Leadership development programs
  • Experiences, challenges, opportunities and way forward

Related: The Aga Khan University launches Mombasa Research Office to boost Education, Health

 




About Soko Directory Team

Soko Directory is a Financial and Markets digital portal that tracks brands, listed firms on the NSE, SMEs and trend setters in the markets eco-system.Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/SokoDirectory and on Twitter: twitter.com/SokoDirectory

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