State Department of Trade and Investments Principal Secretary Juma Mukhwana has said industries have noticed a skill gap among the graduates they recruit.
He said the recruiters are forced to train the graduates again once they employ them.
“The challenge I face from where I sit is that you employ people but you have to retrain them for them to do what you employed them to do,” he said.
“Remember from the Industry’s side, we are the ones who employ the graduates produced by our education system. The industry is the consumer of those skills.”
Mukhwana spoke on Monday when he attended the Africa Continental Qualifications Framework Conference in Nairobi.
He said the Ministry of Education ought to ensure that the graduates being produced each year have the relevant skills the industry requires.
The PS called on the Education Ministry and the Trade and Investment Ministry to work together to produce graduates who have the skills that match the market needs.
He said the cooperation between the two ministries will produce graduates who will start working as soon as they get to the market.
“Doing the training again after employment wastes a lot of time, it is also expensive. The retraining is what we are trying to avoid,” he said.
Mukhwana said looking at the education framework guiding TVETs in other parts of the world, most of what is taught touches on industry.
He said industry not only plays a role in employment but also in the development of curriculums.
“The Ministry of Trade, working together with Education and the Kenya National Qualifications Framework will help define more clearly the skills we are looking for in the industry,” he said.
He lamented that some of those with certification from higher institutions of learning lack skills while those without formal education have skills.
Mukhwana said our Education can only be useful if it helps solve problems and urged that the industry is not looking for papers but for skills.
He said those with skills deserve to get certification for their skills, despite how they acquired the skills.
“If we go this route of certifying informal skills, we will be able to add nearly 10 million people into our qualifications space, people that are already driving this economy. Remember the people who are driving this economy are people who don’t have papers” he said.
He said most plumbers, masons and technicians lack formal education but still make a living with their skills.
Further, he lauded the Kenya National Qualifications Authority for the framework to guide the certification of skills acquired through informal learning.
“We also have an agreement with Kenya Association of Manufactures and other partners to have some of those who get certified go for internship and earn a small allowance as they work,” he said.
Mukhwana said that as Africa is working on its free trade area agreement, it is also developing a framework to guide the qualifications of products it exports.
” We are here today to say as Africans, we will only progress and prosper if we are able to do more business with each other. And for us to do more business with each other, we must break down the barriers, be it the issue of Visa, harmonisation of our standards and flow of goods,” Mukhwana said.