Degree holders are scrambling for low paying jobs, such as security guards, drivers and messengers, in an unfolding crisis.
The 2018 Skills Mismatch Report by the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) indicates that degree-holders in most companies have taken up positions meant for diploma and certificate holders such as clerical and receptionist positions.
Diploma and certificate holders are steadily being edged out of employment.
Postgraduate degree holders are also ending up in jobs way below their competencies, further compounding the wastage of training resources.
“A lot of money is being spent educating a masters degree student who ends up doing a job that can be done by someone else with lower skills. As a nation, we are wasting a lot of resources in education,” said FKE Executive Director Jacqueline Mugo.
The survey shows that 39 per cent of degree holders in the surveyed firms work as clerical officers, 30 per cent as secretaries, 20 per cent as receptionists and nine per cent as casual laborers. Office messengers, security and drivers tied at five per cent.
“Graduates are slowly squeezing out the diploma and certificate qualified personnel in the job market,” notes the report.
“This is a projection of a higher skilled economy with more people having a graduate degree as compared to diploma or rather a certificate qualification.”
Employers are also spending up to Sh100,000 retraining every fresh graduate who joins their firms, highlighting how ill-prepared thousands of degree-holders entering the job markets are.
Releasing the report that surveyed 292 organisations, Ms Mugo said it confirmed their “worst fears” and created overheads for most employers.
The organisations surveyed were drawn from all sectors, including manufacturing, public administration, service, ICT, real estate, shipping, education and health and social work.
Their annual turnovers ranged from below Sh5 million up to more than Sh5 billion.
The survey found that Sh20,000 was the least companies spent to retrain every fresh graduate.
On the entry level position, the survey said 66 per cent of university graduates came “not prepared” to take up the jobs, and that only 34 per cent were “very prepared.”
The report also noted the high uptake of masters degree courses.
It showed that 36 per cent of masters holders were in positions meant for degree holders.
These were in jobs such as consulting and strategy, and finance.
“Uptake of masters degree courses is on the rise in the job market offering competition for job positions with a degree requirement,” says the report.
However, 84 per cent of the organisations surveyed had employees with no degrees.
“A greater proportion of employers have employees without a degree qualification, an indication that more is needed to offer job opportunities for degree-holders,” states the report.
Work basics and customer service are among the topics covered in training for new recruits, with majority of employers conducting the training sessions between one and three times.
“Work and occupation basics, customer service and knowledge about the organisation are among the key topics covered in training of fresh recruits. 55 per cent of the employers have the training sessions between one and three times,” states the report.
At 28 per cent, sales and marketing positions were the most applied for jobs while the least applied for were nursing jobs at three per cent.
Engineers came second with the most job applicants at nine per cent.
Most sales and marketing jobs were applied for in sectors such as manufacturing, real estate and wholesale and retail trade.
Most applied for
Accounting jobs were the most applied for in sectors such as agriculture, forestry and fishing, construction and energy and water supply.
The report also revealed that business, technical and human resource positions were the least applied for by job seekers. “There are fewer managers and technical staff in the labour market. Jobs which require technical skills have few applications,” says the report.
Hard to fill vacancies were in business administration, management and technical jobs.
Reasons given for vacancies that were hard to fill included lack of required skills and experience.
The report indicates that increased advertisement and head-hunting were some of the steps taken to quickly fill up the positions.
Up to 63 per cent of the firms recruited at the entry level, with most of the jobs being lower managerial and non-technical positions such as office assistants and clerks.
The survey found that 68 per cent of the new employees took up to three months to do their job properly. “This is attributed to the time taken in the training and induction of the recruit,” says the report.
Employers preferred graduates from the University of Nairobi, followed by Kenyatta University and Technical University.
“Strathmore is the most preferred private university competing with other public universities such as the University of Nairobi in having the best preparation of students into the labour market,” states the report.
The highest salary for entry level graduates was Sh20,000 while the lowest was Sh10,000.
Almost half of the companies surveyed remained optimistic of business prospects for the next three years, with 46 per cent planning to retain their staff.
However, plans to slash or increase employees cut across all departments.
The report indicated that annual minimum wage increase had negatively impacted businesses. The report showed that more practical skills needed to be taught in learning institutions.
“Academic institutions will need to offer more practical skills to be able to meet the labour market needs,” it stated.
The report identified interpersonal, technical and information technology as the emerging skills that employees should have and called for a direct link between faculties and employers.