Em­ploy­ers send mixed sig­nals on job-re­lated skills

Business Daily (Kenya) - - EDITORIAL & OPINION -

The work­place de­fines a per­son based on the job one does be it a banker, tin­smith, en­gi­neer, model or even politi­cian. How­ever, the mod­ern work­place does not gen­er­ally de­fine an in­di­vid­ual due to a lack of sym­me­try be­tween one’s ed­u­ca­tion and the job one holds.

In the past, an ac­coun­tant, for ex­am­ple, did work re­lated to one’s train­ing but these days you might find one work­ing in a field out­side one’s pro­fes­sional train­ing.

This is even ev­i­dent on peo­ple’s so­cial me­dia sta­tus where the qual­i­fi­ca­tion based on what one stud­ied and the job one has some­times made one won­der about the skill gap and why the or­gan­i­sa­tion de­cided to take such a risk.

In most cases, there are many job­less Kenyans with skills, ex­pe­ri­ence or ed­u­ca­tion that match the job.

When I sam­ple some of my peers, I find one who has a de­gree in tourism man­ages a big hospi­tal in Nairobi, an an­thro­pol­o­gist is a banker, an en­gi­neer is a man­ager at an in­sur­ance com­pany, a teacher works for a milling com­pany and a finance and bank­ing grad­u­ate is a teacher at a pri­vate school.

Not for­get­ting my for­mer boss, who has a masters in pub­lic health, now heads IT projects at a multi­na­tional.

Such an ar­range­ment has forced many em­ploy­ees to seek fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion to align them­selves af­ter giv­ing up or re­al­is­ing that they could never get jobs in their field of study.

That leaves one to won­der whether the ed­u­ca­tion is the prob­lem given that pol­i­cy­mak­ers and em­ploy­ers claim that there is a skill gap be­tween the ed­u­ca­tion and the ex­ist­ing jobs.

If as noted ear­lier an an­thro­pol­o­gist can be a banker why not a finance grad­u­ate? When one goes about seek­ing a job, it is com­mon for the can­di­date to be dis­qual­i­fied be­cause one lacks cer­ti­fi­ca­tion such as com­put­erised ac­count­ing or other It-based ap­pli­ca­tions not taught at the uni­ver­si­ties.

Where is the place of on-job train­ing to fa­mil­iarise fresh grad­u­ates with the or­gan­i­sa­tional pro­ce­dures? Em­ploy­ers should be ob­li­gated to train in­ex­pe­ri­enced job­seek­ers or else a grad­u­ate look­ing for a job with all qual­i­fi­ca­tions but is not ac­quainted with the lat­est tech­nol­ogy would be dis­ad­van­taged

It would be akin to tech gi­ants like Ap­ple, Google and Mi­crosoft not hir­ing a skilled job­seeker only be­cause one is fa­mil­iar with a ri­val’s web browser.

Al­though I of­ten hear from ed­i­tors in the me­dia cir­cles that it is eas­ier to train a busi­ness grad­u­ate to be re­porters on fi­nan­cial mat­ters than to hire a jour­nal­ist and train them to write about busi­ness mat­ters.

With these re­al­i­ties is it bet­ter to look for jobs be­fore study­ing?

One rea­son for such an ap­proach is that a job seeker will find where to put his or her head in a tent like the prover­bial camel that later gets in.

The other ex­pla­na­tion is that jobs are too scarce to match em­ploy­ees with match­ing skills based on their pro­fes­sions. There­fore, this ex­cuse of skill gap is just to es­cape fun­da­men­tal eco­nomic is­sues of job­less­ness. Again if there is a skill gap why are em­ploy­ers not hir­ing highly paid ex­pa­tri­ates with the rare skills that Kenyan grad­u­ates ap­par­ently lack?

It seems that the only skill that is still rel­e­vant to many Kenyan or­gan­i­sa­tions is that ev­ery grad­u­ate should pos­sess the se­cure a job is the abil­ity to speak ex­cel­lent English while for oth­ers ap­pren­tice­ship will do. Richard Oyula, Nairobi

--FILE

Job seek­ers dur­ing a past re­cruit­ment ex­er­cise.

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