UCLC Exclusive: Career Opportunities & Employability Skills 2020

Academia and industry are two important pillars of the Economy. A robust collaboration between the two will augur well for our developing economy, enabling innovation, growth in the education system and producing an employment-ready workforce.

UCLC Connect organized East-Africa Symposium on Career Opportunities & Employability Skills 2020 on 03 September 2020. The International summit witnessed the participation of Eminent leaders from Higher Education and Industry Expert to address the challenges of unemployment and generating ideas to ensure gainful and sustainable employment to the youth through deliberations on diverse issues post-Covid such as Skill development policies & frameworks for New-age Skills, Disruption by new-age technologies, global and national innovations, best practices & lessons learnt, Career Counselling, global labour markets, and Apprenticeship.

The Powerpact Panel comprised of Eminent Personalities including Dr Vimal Shah, Chairman Bidco Africa, Prof. Faustine Karrani Bee, Vice-Chancellor, University of Dodoma Tanzania, Assoc Prof.Janice D Busingye, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Kampala International University Uganda,Prof. Peter B. Kibas , Dean School of Business  Zetech University and student nominees from Egerton University Kenya & University of Lay Adventists of Kigali Rwanda.


East-Africa Symposium: Major Highlights

Dr Vimal Shah - Chairman Bidco Africa

Trending Job functions and Professions across East Africa 

  • Today change is happening not because of only COVID, it's rather the Digital revolution which is redefining the future of work, with AI, virtual reality, Machine learning, Augmented reality. 

  • Ability to learn faster than change. Along with a degree from now on competencies will play a vital role. For Eg, A lot of Banks now, look for engineers and architects to be employed why? Accuracy and Precision

  • On the Importance of repurposing: The agriculture sector is completely changed into agribusiness, to agritech with Drone technology, Precision farming & Scientific farming gaining relevance today where Branding & value Chain is gaining importance

  • On Attitude : Apart from knowledge and skills which are imparted in university I think attitude is going to be very important. Situations always change. For eg. Nobody had seen the global financial crisis in 2007-2008 there was no reference book to teach on how to respond to the global financial crisis, similarly this year we had fires across California Australia and people didn't know what to do and then from March comes a long  COVID . We need to have competency and attitude among people and say let's look at the situation, assess it fast adapt to it be a changemaker and change faster than that change that's happening in the market. Even industries  making garments before are now making masks hand sanitizer

  • On Business Opportunities: Such times brings a lot of other business opportunities. For Eg Now University of Dodoma, Tanzania can go global in the world by delivering online lectures.  

  • On Learning & Unlearning: Learning is just not happening in university, it has to be lifelong learning, we need to learn faster at the same time unlearn. It is important to have learning by doing philosophy to get into it and start moving

Message to Young Graduate students on skill development to match the industry requirement
  • On being Globally Competitive & having continuous learning attitude:Let us look at the situation right now,  I think education is important, but more important is the way we deliver it which should continue. I think we need to understand what is the output that we need, you can't wait for the gestation period 4- 5 years to get things done, Students need to be globally competitive  so that they can transform the world.

  • Need to have an Entrepreneurial Mindset, practical Fundraising training & addressing Fear of Failure: Today we need employees who are self-starters, not robots. I see a lot of ideas among students, but often they have no clue on the implementation part, this life skill students should learn- the art of fundraising, how is Angel funding is done,  how venture capital can be done, they need to know how to make a pitch. Now any ventures started off can be an adventure and it can fail too, but there shouldn't be any fear of failure that's what stops so many people today

  • On the kind of Competencies, we look while recruiting: Disruption is coming. The Law of demand and supply in economics shows, is there a demand for Graduates? There is no demand for Degree holders, we look for candidates and test them in terms of IQ, EQ and Passion

  • On the need to reduce the Cycle time of Education: The cycle time of our education needs to be shortened & continuous learning must be harped. Learning is now experiential,We all need to be aligned by Academia, Private sector government students let's get rid of silos let's put it together.

Three Ingredients of Growth & Change: For any change to happen there are three ingredients that are required 
  • You must have discomfort with the status quo, 

  • You should have very clear vision for future 

  • You must have a clear time bound Action Plan 

Prof. Faustine Karrani Bee, Vice Chancellor University of Dodoma Tanzania

  • On Addressing Challenges in developing skills of students that are critically required by the industry.

  • The Best way of Designing and delivering the programs that are relevant to industries are the ones that commit the needs of fast-growing in the East African region.  

  • On offering a curriculum that is Industry relevant. In this case, the involvement of the industry is important. For Eg, Students must be exposed to more industrial internship thereby implementing Learning by Doing. For this both private & public sector must be willing to take up the student to practical training. The Other important thing is the feedback we have to get from the industry when we teach is valuable. If we have that constant communication, the changes in the curriculum would be possible. 

  • The other thing is there should be equal opportunity for both men and women. In East Africa, if you go to the statistics the labour market is highly affected by the declining youth participation. Maybe women are more affected in accessing employment. The involvement of these change must come on board.The introduction of soft skill is the other thing that most of our graduates must aim for, including technology skills & communication skills.My conclusion is for the university not to make it isolation 

Assoc Prof.Janice D Busingye, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Kampala International University Uganda

  • One voice One concerted effort: Today there is an outcry from the Industry, about the unemployability of the Graduates, Lack of skills and Need for curriculum change. All these are conversations that are going on in different places. And there has been a lot of effort to revise curricula,  to tailor it to industries needs. The only problem is that there is no- One voice One concerted effort that is happening. There need to be unified concerted efforts across various Universities in all of East Africa

  • So what we need to have in Academia is One voice,  in the East African region and understand what kind of graduate We want to see, and then we start from there. And it applies to the education system as a whole. Kenya has changed the curricula. I think four times since independence, Uganda has been on the same road Rwanda and has changed 2-3 times between 2010 and 2020. 

Let's change everything. Let's bring technology
  • Uganda has more than 70% of its population employed in Agriculture, small scale smallholder farming, so if we are saying that we are producing for the market, and a market where students are going to be employed, the syllabus must be revised accordingly. 

  • On Industry Exposure at Kampala International University: So we have an initiative where we bring people from the industry, and they interact with our graduates. So if it is somebody who is aiming that business, or maybe somebody who's doing medicine, you bring them and they interact with them from the first year by the time they go out in the third year, then they know exactly what is expected in the job market. So I think these are very useful conversations that must start. And we must allow each other to collaborate and push each other in this initiative.

Prof. Peter B. Kibas , Dean School of Business & Economics Zetech

  • On key Employability skills for Employment Opportunities post-2020.

  • The current situation today in Kenya, East Africa as well, is that everything has been disrupted. We have to think differently. We have to think in terms of what does the industry want? What do they expect from an engineer to come in for a job and freshmen  or as a manager become 

  • One of the key things that the industry wants people to understand that technology and innovation, are driving pillars. We are no longer training students in the old way.

  • The skills are we're talking about, we look beyond just the normal skills we learn in class. 

When one is looking for new skills one needs to think outside the box, & be able to think from 360 degree 
  • On Various Employability Skills: Creativity & Innovation must be taught. Communication skills is key, Listening skills, to understand, to be able to discuss and express yourself. Key skills including Teamwork, Problem-solving skills, Critical thinking are important. Emotional intelligence, another area, being able to understand themselves, being able to communicate, being able to discuss being, able to make decisions, to take criticism without any problem and move forward. These are things that they should be looking at emotional intelligence and self-control. Digital literacy, Technology is changing very fast. Like now we are teaching using smartphones, Moodle, And this is where the future lies. 

  • On Industry Interaction: In my university, we work very closely with industry, and invite industry players to come and talk to our students to share and discuss with forums almost on a weekly basis. And we also send our students to industry for practice. This is an industrial attachment.  

Mitchel Mukonyo Muoki, Egerton University Kenya

  • Expectations from Program pursuing employability and career opportunities 

  • In terms of a labour market opportunity, my assumption is that there is high this high labour demand as compared to the supply, therefore, I expect Career mentoring and advice for university students in order for them to transition from their studies to their labour demand.

  • Provision of internship for graduates in order for them to gain experience in the labor market. 

  • In Agricultural consultancy firms to be encouraged to offer internship & placements for agricultural economics graduates

  • In insurance, most graduates can be encouraged to venture into the insurance sector because it's also trending in Kenya and it depends mostly on a rain-fed agriculture and the varying climatic conditions. 

  • As best practices as per industry needs, students will also be involved in research to determine agricultural trends and also the needs of their market. They should also be involved in the development of policies that facilitate agriculture, facilitate insurance over agricultural and crisis in Kenya and in East Africa. 

  • So on highlights on a workplace upskilling It is my expectation that they'll be on job training,. They'll also be benchmarking with the other countries which have been successful in their agricultural research. And those also provide nutrients in the career courses in the workplace, the organization to offer new courses for the maybe the officers to be able to learn new trends in the career.

Kenny Kevin, from University of Lay Adventists of Kigali Rwanda

  • Reflections on the current structure of Education in East Africa

  • The desire for the creation of this East African Community common higher education area showed the political will to establish strong higher education institutions in the region, which are better suited to address the developmental challenge in the area. So however, the initiative hasn't been followed up with adequate funding from partners which will lead to inadequate functioning of this initiative. So going quickly to the national level. 

  • According to UNESCO, there are some challenges which the institution faces. The first one may be University autonomy and freedom, with insufficient human capacity in terms of administrative and management, and infrastructure deficiencies in terms of limited availability of laboratories and workshops for practical Science skills. Women are still underrepresented in higher education, in particular in science and technology fields and so are, disabled individuals Which we need to look at it. 

I feel there should be an increased technology learning so as to adapt to the new moving world. I wish there was an East African University where bright minds would get higher education in different fields like health, finance, agriculture, engineering, and many more others. 

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