Kabarak, FKE unite to bridge industry gaps

Kabarak University Executive Director Daniel Mutai (centre), Deputy Director Faith Yator (left) and  Reliable Concrete LTD Director Mwangi Mucemi during the roundtable. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Kabarak University Technical and Vocational Education Training Institute has joined hands with the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) to bridge the gap between academia and industry.

This is happening as the institution steps up efforts to provide quality training to students to channel more qualified graduates into the job market.

In the new partnership, the institution and officials from FKE held a roundtable in Nakuru to explore ways to strengthen the connections between academic institutions and industrial stakeholders.

The roundtable-themed “Linking Industry with Academia: Enhancing Industry Relationships” brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, including representatives from the engineering, manufacturing, agriculture, and hospitality sectors.

Also present were governmental and non-governmental organisations. 

The aim was to engage the stakeholders in discussions on linking education with industry-required skills, creating market-driven programmes, and identifying areas for further collaboration.

Speaking during the event held at Kabarak University TVET Institute, Florence Odwako, Regional Coordinator for FKE, emphasised the urgent need to align education with market demands.

"Despite producing more graduates than job opportunities, many organisations struggle to find candidates with the right skills," she said.

She underscored the importance of collaborative efforts to bridge this gap, noting that the misalignment is a significant factor in Kenya's unemployment crisis.

Odwako highlighted FKE's advocacy for more young people, especially girls, to enrol in TVET courses.

She said that the FKE Girls in Technology (GIT) project, which targets girls in secondary schools and TVETs, aims to inspire them to enter Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) fields and promote private sector collaboration through partnerships.

In his address, Kabarak University Vice-Chancellor Professor Henry Kiplagat in a speech read on his behalf by Kabarak University TVET Institute Executive Director Dr Daniel Mutai, underscored the importance of strong ties between academia and industry. 

"In an era of rapid technological advancement and dynamic market landscapes, the synergy between education and industry has never been more crucial," said  Prof Kiplagat, who is also the Institute Chairperson of the Board of Directors.

He highlighted that closer links ensure curricula remain relevant and aligned with evolving industry needs, producing graduates who are both academically proficient and practically skilled.

Engineer Johnstone Kamau, the Director of County Water Company and Sanitation, stressed the importance of practical training methods in TVETs and universities.

"I love professionals from TVET because they know practical work. I urge learning institutions to increase workshop hours in their training and let the learners gain technical skills practically," Mr Kamau stated.

He acknowledged industry concerns about training methodologies and urged institutions to focus on hands-on training and exchange programmes. 

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