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Survey Reveals Changing Skill Demands in Kenya’s job market

The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) in partnership with the Africa Digital Media Institute (ADMI), and Nexford University, have collaboratively launched a comprehensive report shedding light on the changing demands for skills in Kenya’s workforce.

Photo/Courtesy: Africa Digital Media Institute Partnerships Manager Mukui Mbindyo, Federation of Kenya Employers CEO Jacqueline Mugo and Nexford University CEO Fadl Al Tarzi hold copies of a report during the launch of the Skills Needs survey report on Monday 21st November, 2023. 

The recent survey has put a spotlight on the shift in Kenya’s workforce demand. The findings call for key skills in transport and logistics, signaling a pivotal moment in the intersection of education and industry needs.

The survey specifically targeted FKE members across diverse sectors. It saw 521 enterprises participate in the survey.

The enterprises under study showcased a demand for skills in various career fields – Information Technology at 28.4%, Finance & Business Management at 27.4%, Engineering at 19.2%, Transportation, Distribution and Logistics at 18.6%, and Legal at 18.2%.

Speaking during the launch Dr Laila Macharia, the CEO and co-founder of ADMI said, ”As we navigate the evolving demands of the workforce, it is imperative for educational institutions, businesses, and policymakers to collaborate in shaping an agile and skilled workforce that can drive innovation and sustainable economic growth.”

Additionally, the predominant educational qualifications sought by these enterprises were undergraduate Bachelor’s degrees at 43.8% followed by Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) at 34.9%.

The top TVET skills in demand were in transport and logistics at 21.3%, electrical at 21.1%, and building and construction at 18.2%. Within the engineering sector, computer and software engineering at 30.7% led the list, followed by electrical and electronics engineering at 27.4% and mechanical and production engineering at 25%.

Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) CEO, Jacqueline Mugo also noted, ”With technological changes, labor market dynamics are evolving faster than ever and the mismatch between workers’ skills and those required by available jobs has become a top priority policy concern. As such, many employers report difficulties finding suitably skilled workers, even though the unemployment rate is high.”

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This, she noted has become a top priority policy concern. As such, many employers report difficulties finding suitably skilled workers, even though the unemployment rate is high.

The surveyed enterprises further identified social skills that are crucial to them.

A noteworthy 73.1% of the studied enterprises utilized training to bridge the skills gap, often in collaboration with other organizations in the capacity-building space.

The survey highlighted that 20% of enterprises faced hard-to-fill vacancies, leading some to employ applicants with qualifications below their initial requirements. Industries like manufacturing reported the highest difficulty in filling positions.

”We are delighted to launch this report today in partnership with FKE and ADMI, it helps move us one step closer to integrating employers within the future of education in Kenya. The report clearly shows that employers need to do more to upskill their own team members and to partner with educators to bridge the gap between educators and employers. Equally, the report shows that while jobs may be limited compared to the size of Kenya’s talent pool employers are still struggling to find qualified talent and that struggle will only increase as technology continues to disrupt industries”, said Fadl Al Tarzi, CEO of Nexford University.

Reasons for non-employment or staff retention challenges included a lack of qualified candidates in the local region and high salary expectations from candidates.

Consequences of skills deficits included inhibiting business expansion, loss of revenue and a decline in customers or market share.

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