University education was in the past a lucrative affair since it guaranteed employment almost immediately after graduation. Today, however, holding a university degree in Kenya is perceived by some people as having little value due to the high rate of unemployment among graduates.
A study conducted by the World Bank found a huge disconnect between university education and labour market needs, especially in developing countries. It established that most graduates in sub-Saharan Africa lacked skills to perform jobs in their economies.
Most companies contend that fresh graduates lack the specialized skills and the experience needed to perform most tasks allocated to them. Various schools of thought conclude that there is a missing link between the university education and the industry that must be addressed through curriculum development.
Scholars posit that there is a need for synergies between higher educational institutions and industries and that the curriculum should address the needs of industry.
Studies indicate that most universities mainly focus on publishing research papers in the refereed journals and not to effect change. Most of the research work gathers dust in university libraries with very little reward to the researcher.
Universities are also not ready to share their research findings with the public and the industry. Most of the research work is locked with passwords in the university repositories. Products of research in my opinion ought to be for public consumption since they seek to find solutions to societal problems.
In the 2020-2021 financial year, the education sector in Kenya was allocated Sh497.7 billion ($4.4 billion) or 26.7 percent of the national budget. This is money that is not well spent if the student ends up being unemployed and unproductive.
The economy loses billions of shillings each year in the form of tuition fees that could be channeled to other worthy causes.
As a remedy for the ‘half-baked’ tag on our current graduates, industry needs should be entrenched in our curriculum. It is indeed true that there is a disconnect between what is taught in class and the actual experience in the industry.