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The emergence of ‘Commercial’ learning institutions and what graduates can do to stand out in job market

Updated on July 1, 2015

The clamour for 'papers'

Here in Kenya, there has been a heated debate for the past one week on the alleged declining credibility of some higher learning institutions in Nairobi city, and others based in far-flung areas of the country. This came after a TV station in Kenya aired an expose on how some recently established university (Nairobi Aviation College) has been allegedly dishing out degree honours to individuals on payment but not based academic merit. Kisii University—another varsity based on the lakeside region of Kenya—was also not spared with the same allegations.

As the academic institutions are locked up in a row and the truth remains mysterious, there is one thing that the world can never assume. This may not be the first and solitary incident that throws the credibility of some academic degrees offered by some East African higher learning institutions in doubt. Last year, a survey was released by the Inter-University Council for East Africa that shocked many.

According to the IUCEA study, more than 50% of graduates from East African higher learning institutions i.e Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi are incompetent for the job market. The main reason given by the study was that these people lack the hands-on skills required by the employers in the job market.

As quoted by the University World News, secretary of IUCEA, Prof Mayunga Nkunya says: “Employers said most graduates lacked self-confidence, could not express themselves properly and lacked the technical mastery required in the jobs they are seeking…It’s a time-bomb. What we have are very theoretical graduates”

Going by the latest trends in the educational sector, people have adopted the art of seeking academic papers at the behest of acquiring the much needed practical skills that would form the skeletal structure of the requirements of employers. With this, many colleges not just in East Africa alone are shifting their goals to sort of commercialized learning.

The institutions know that many students who are self-sponsored have the money and are seeking “knowledge”; theys make profit and expand their facilities giving little effort in addressing the quality.

Traditionally, employers may have preferred to hire graduates for they expected that by hiring such individuals, they would be getting into their pools of human resources individuals with utmost dexterity and vast perimeters of experience. Perhaps, those with Diploma or certificate courses would only get jobs only on the virtue of being experienced.

Ironically, this notion is gone in the employment sectors. Human resource managers no longer concentrate on what the papers reflect and how organized a resume is- it is basically what a potential candidate can offer on the table. Focusing on the degree papers remain nostalgic idea that many graduates who are keen enough will just kiss goodbye.

Those still living in oblivion

Even as the landscape of recruitment undergoes paradigm shifts thanks to the desire for efficacy by the employers, there are a few learners still hell-bent on pursuing the ideologies based on old order. They are geared towards getting their names written on the certificates. This seems to be aided by the learning institutions themselves that are pursuing other goals.

Some of these institutions are overstocked and under equipped to the extent that student ratio to that of research facilities will be a shocker to someone. The oblivious learners believe that the name of the institutions and the titles of the certificates are the selling points in the eyes of employers despite emphasis on skills.

Students from Nairobi Aviation College demonstrate in the streets of Nairobi for the airing of a news story about controversial degree honours tied to their institution
Students from Nairobi Aviation College demonstrate in the streets of Nairobi for the airing of a news story about controversial degree honours tied to their institution | Source

Way forward?

Now that the world is changing and employers are unmoved by the academic titles, what do learners need to do to keep abreast with the requirements of the market? Papers are not enough, what else do they need inclusive of skills. What are the best blueprints of an aspiring credible practitioner?

Getting the best advice

As an aspiring professional in a field, the learner should seek the most appropriate advice. This means that one ought to make the best career choice in life that will not culminate into any form of lamentation and discouragement.

In Canada, there seemed to be a particular problem when Canadian based online Newspaper, National Post highlighted a story about young fresh graduates resorting to informal jobs due to unemployment coupled perpetrated with improper career advice. The learners eventually realize that they are pursuing wrong professions.

“We’re letting a bunch of 17- and 18-year-olds dictate our labour market composition, and they’re not given a lot of advice to make decisions about what might be in their best interests”, said Rick Miner, labour market consultant and the President of Senecca College as quoted by the National Post

Knowing the requirements of the profession

The learner should always be able to research and get well acquainted with the requirements of the profession. This can enable him or her recognize the ultimate skills that are pertinent for excellence.

Practising and maintaining the positive attitude

The learner therefore needs to maintain positive attitude as he or she makes practise a routine. This will be very important to developing a good resume


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