A new approach is necessary for job seekers, academic papers are not enough
By Fanon Kihu
| October 23rd 2019
Recently, East Africa Portland announced its plan to restructure due to the losses it has been making. This is a move that has jeopardised the jobs of the hundreds of its employees. Choppies Supermarket recently sent 200 workers packing in its bid to cease its operations in Kenya. Just a while back, Stanbic Bank announced that it would lay off about 200 workers as a result of digitalization.
The story of workers being laid off does not end there. Diageo, the parent company of EABL, announced its plan to have retrenched 100 workers in its Africa Service Business Centre by March next year. It intends to relocate the centre. The merger between Telkom Kenya and Airtel Kenya also put at stake about 575 jobs.
Firms lay off workers with the intention of cutting costs, maximizing their output, and offering better services and higher quality goods to customers. However, even as they do so, we cannot ignore the fact that many people end up jobless. Thus, adding to the already existing baggage of unemployment.
The rate of unemployment is high in Kenya. This is evident from the various stories we have been reading and watching thanks to the popular media. These stories are just a sample of the frustration that job seekers are going through.
Over a month ago, I read the story of Samuel Gachini in the Daily Nation. Samuel is a Masters graduate and is pursuing a PhD program at one of our leading local universities. However, he has been unable to get a formal job and survives by operating a taxi. About two months ago, the story of Kelvin Ochieng’ was aired by one of the local TV stations. Kelvin is a first-class honours graduate in Actuarial Science who was jobless and homeless. However, he has since received job offers after being aired on TV.
These two cases represent the many graduates who have good academic credentials but are jobless or found it hard to penetrate the job market. We have already seen that many companies are dispensing with employees. Concurrently, more graduates are weeping about unemployment. Therefore, formal jobs are becoming scarce as trained personnel continue to flood the market.
Therefore, this means that nowadays, having great academic credentials is not enough to earn you a job. It is important for job seekers to try and fit in the shoes of the employers. The employer is mainly interested in what the job seeker has to offer that can increase the profits of his/her business.
Therefore, it is important that graduates discover skills within their courses of study that are easily applicable to the job market; hence, they can easily be exchanged for money. This applies to both the arts and science courses. For example, a historian can opt to perfect his/her research skills. Therefore, when he enters the job market, he will be selling his research skills, which can be readily offered to the job market. Similarly, electrical engineering can opt to perfect his/her wiring skills. This is a service that households urgently need.
With the increase in the number of graduates, the competition for existing jobs has also increased. This means that to have an advantage over the rest, one may have to show products that he/she has been able to develop. For example, if you are a graduate of Information Technology, you may think of showing some of the mobile applications you have developed. This will boost your CV. Apart from that, it will also give you an opportunity to knock the doors of companies asking them whether they would like to be made for mobile apps. In the long run, this can result in self-employment.
Therefore, a new approach is necessary for job seekers. It is not enough to possess good academic credentials. Graduates should go ahead and identify skills within their course of study that can be easily exchanged for money. They should also focus on developing products in order to stand out from the crowd.
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