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Who will absorb Kenyan Degrees in this Rapidly Changing Market?

Whilst many people in Kenya are preferring tertiary education for prestige and safe ways to excelling in the job market, the reverse has always been cognitive to the demands of employers. An unprecedented 15,547 candidates, class of form four 2020 has defied these odds by snubbing university admission to join Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET)according to data from the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS). With this projection in relation to the performance of TVET and diploma graduates in the job market, so much economic growth is going to be intercepted.

It seems that Kenyans are highly educated, but regardless of their level of education still suffer unemployment. There are various ‘jobless corners” in Nairobi, Mombasa and in many of these you find young men and women with brown envelopes, many of them highly qualified. Some have resorted to giving free advice and lectures on the street to keep them occupied. Their desperation is written on their faces as they await the call that for some never comes.

Just as the adage goes, ‘half baked is half served’ most employers in Kenya have been falling back to recruiting more TVET and diploma graduates into their workforce.

It is a demeanour that has randomly sheltered in every office for the last one and half decades. The trust on university graduates to provide quality output in the workforce has been lost with the coats of prestige and sluggish nature they get exposed to in their institution.

As the job market continue to traverse through many joints and variable focal points, the expose has been evident with the recent KUCCPS data as over 10,700 candidates fail to apply for degree courses despite meeting the minimum qualifications, also 4,840 candidates have preferred Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges to pursue courses in an employment market where university graduates are struggling to get jobs. The other dilemma to education in Kenya is that not all of it is top quality. There is a university on every corner of every town/city. Colleges have been glorified into fully certified universities; their names as questionable as their staff and their curriculum. This means that getting a masters degree in Kenya is no longer a big deal; there is one offered everywhere. It is no wonder then that employers still value a degree from the U.S. or from the European countries over the local degrees.

The ailing economy has been fractured by lack of creativity and innovative minds. Most employers nowadays have been pushing for fixed output that has been accorded with enough research, team work and necessary creative and innovative skills. This goes beyond class work a disadvantage to most Kenyan university graduates.

The 15,547 candidates accounted for 10.8 percent of the 143,140 students who qualified to join universities. The rise in number has been aggravated too by Presidents Uhuru Kenyattas focus on ensuring TVET and other fast performing educational institutions are there in almost every county and region, hence coinciding with the government’s increased focus on technical colleges in the quest to feed the labour market with craftsmen and technicians.

During the reign of the former President Mwai Kibaki’s regime, most mid-tier colleges were being converted into colleges, an index that was squashed off by the then education CS Fred Matiang’i. President Uhuru Kenyatta has created an avenue of parallel advantages between diploma and degree graduates in entering the workforce.

It’s an aberration that most parents are now comforted with since they have witness of the problems some of their degree kids are labouring. Universities have been left to wait for KUCCPS now to source for the over 10,700 candidates to join campuses.

The KUCCPS announced on Monday that it had reopened its application portal to give some 32,718 qualifying candidates a chance to reapply for preferred courses. KUCCPS says that of the 131,833 that applied to be considered for placement in TVETs and universities, only 94,275 candidates were placed in degree courses of their choice.

“All efforts are being made to track 10,707 candidates with C+ and above who failed to apply for courses in universities ‘in the spirit of leaving no one behind’,” said Agnes Wahome KUCCPS Chief Executive.

With the economic standard of the country, a more approachable model that’s fast and efficient need to be plugged into our education system, such that the students should understand what life awaits them and how independently they would manoeuvre to establish a niche in the money world.

With the new curriculum ,the competency based curriculum (CBC) that is phasing out the popular 8-4-4 system, TVET can be seen coinciding well with this, making them more likely to be receiving students soon.

With the rising debts in universities as most students fade to TVET and less parallel students in them is posing danger to their quality of degree delivery. It’s mind intuitive to deny that most tertiary institutions in the country are not there for business but just education.

The government has come in to help even the lowest student get access to these technical institutions by accessing the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB). Previously it was only for university students. The 2019 Census data on formal and non-formal schooling further shows TVET education is tramping universities in popularity in Kenya. In the latest information on improving the technical and vocational institutions while reading the budget, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani announced tax rebates for employers that offer one-year internships to TVET graduates. This move was particularly appreciated by the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises which highly needed these.

“It is my hope that employers will take advantage of this incentive and give our young graduates from the TVET institutions opportunities to gain practical experience to expand their employability,” he said.

The slow steps being made by the government have been in the market force for some time now. The 100% transition from the old curriculum to the new one will call for more growth in the economy. With the belief of diploma graduates being able to crack easily in the market forces makes them often reliable to employer.

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