Why University Degrees Face Challenges in Kenya

In a world characterized by rising college tuition, escalating student loan debts, a challenging job market, and expanding opportunities for online entrepreneurship, the question arises: Is pursuing a university degree still a worthwhile investment? This quandary becomes particularly poignant when graduates find themselves unemployed despite the years of hard work dedicated to acquiring what is often considered a “prestigious degree.” Today, we delve into some of the reasons why a significant number of graduates in Kenya face unemployment despite holding degrees.

1. Lack of Creativity:

  • Employers increasingly seek creative individuals capable of contributing to business innovation. Unfortunately, some graduates mistakenly believe that merely attending university automatically instills creativity and innovation. However, these qualities stem from personal experiences and interactions with the environment, not just formal education.

2. Faculty Priorities:

  • Many professors prioritize tenure and research over providing the best possible education to students. Some graduates, even in specialized fields like engineering, may lack fundamental skills due to the focus on research at the expense of teaching.

3. Networking Neglect:

  • Graduates often underestimate the importance of networking. Many job opportunities go unadvertised, and to secure promotions or external roles, effective networking is crucial. Recommendations often come from personal connections, highlighting the need for graduates to actively engage in networking to uncover hidden opportunities.

4. Lack of Timely Labor Market Information:

  • Cabinet Secretary of Education, Dr. Alfred Matiangi, has highlighted that universities often fail to adequately prepare students for the job market. Graduates find themselves unprepared, lacking the skills and knowledge needed for a seamless transition into the workforce.

5. Graduates’ Job Selectivity:

  • Some graduates face unemployment not due to a lack of opportunities but because they are overly selective in their job choices. A study by High Fliers Research indicates that an increasing number of graduate vacancies remain unfilled because students exhibit pickiness in accepting job offers.

Final Thoughts

The shifting dynamics of the job market, coupled with evolving employer expectations, have led to challenges for university graduates in Kenya. Creativity, effective teaching, networking, timely information, and a pragmatic approach to job choices emerge as critical factors that can significantly impact graduates’ employability. As the landscape continues to evolve, adapting to these factors becomes essential for both educational institutions and graduates seeking to thrive in the ever-changing world of work.


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