As unemployment rates continue to rise, many companies have cited a local skills gap as one of the major bottlenecks to growth particularly in Information Technology (IT).
This has led to a new push to build the next generation of skills needed to plug the widening gap.
Experts concur that the nature of work is evolving, and that is why so many technology-related jobs remain hard to fill.
This, is as industries from manufacturing to agriculture are reshaped by data science and cloud computing.
Jobs are now being created that demand new skills- which require novel approaches to education, training and recruiting.
Skills matter for all of these new positions, even if they are not always acquired in traditional ways.
“Organisations around the world today are dealing with disruptive changes in business and technology that are having a major impact on economies and employment. As many companies in the East Africa region are creating markets and revitalising industries, there are new dynamics shaping the global labour market,” said Mr John Matogo, University Relations Leader for East Africa at IBM East Africa in an interview in Nairobi last week.
Citing International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) in helping bridge the technological gap in the country, Mr Matogo said through IBM’s Africa Skills Initiative, over the last two years, about 2,000 university students and faculty members have achieved certification in Kenya.
“Already, 5,838 students from various local universities and 576 faculty members have undergone training on various technologies with nearly 2,000 students and faculty members achieving certification,” said Mr Matogo.
The partnership between IBM and universities in Africa is meant to train and certify faculty members and students in the areas of the latest emerging technologies to better align university curricula with the IT industry needs and trends.
This initiative covers areas such as business analytics, information management and big data, mobile computing, cyber security, cloud computing, and Web 2.0 application development.
“The objective of the programme is to prepare the students for a career in the IT industry, build local capacity according to international standards in new areas and provide an environment for continuous technical update,” said Mr Matogo.
IBM has been collaborating with the Kenya Education Network (Kenet), which is the National Research and Education Network (NREN) of Kenya.
Kenet is licensed by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) as a not-for-profit operator serving the education and research institutions.
Through Kenet, IBM is working with local universities in skills building.
In the collaboration, Kenet has provided hardware on which IBM hosts the cloud labs environment for the skills programme.
In exchange, IBM has donated a P8 system to further extend the cloud lab environment. The partnership has made Kenet a strategic partner for the delivery of the IBM skills program in the country.
The 2017 Human Development Index (HDI) by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) indicated that nearly four in every 10 Kenyans of working age have no jobs – the worst level of unemployment in the region.
The UNDP report indicated that 39.1 per cent of the Kenyan population of working age are unemployed. It, therefore, warned that soaring unemployment in the region, especially in Kenya, risks breeding runaway crime and violence.
According to Kenya Economic Outlook 2017 report by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), last year, the economy generated a total of 832,900 new jobs of which 85,600 were in modern sector, while 747,300 were in the informal sector.