Linkages between skills development and economic growth

In Summary

• In today’s fast-paced and ever evolving market, the value of skills development can not be overstated.

• As advanced technologies emerge, higher quality standards adopted in the global economy and flexible and efficient production processes become the norm, skills are increasingly becoming one of the means through which industries and entire countries gain a competitive edge.

President Uhuru Kenyatta presents certificates and cheques to awardees during the Commissioning of the KCB Foundation 2jiajiri Programme Class of 2018 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, Nairobi County.
President Uhuru Kenyatta presents certificates and cheques to awardees during the Commissioning of the KCB Foundation 2jiajiri Programme Class of 2018 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, Nairobi County.
Image: PSCU

Last week, we discussed the importance of Research and Development (R&D) in relation to Kenya’s economic growth strategy, this week we focus on skills development as a means to ensure that human capital is accorded the importance it deserves viz-a-viz Kenya’s economic growth story.

In today’s fast-paced and ever evolving market, the value of skills development can not be overstated. As advanced technologies emerge, higher quality standards adopted in the global economy and flexible and efficient production processes become the norm, skills are increasingly becoming one of the means through which industries and entire countries gain a competitive edge. In cognisance of this, the Kenyan Government has purposefully increased resources available for the nurturing and development of skills, particularly in relation to the younger generations. This positive effort is in recognition of the importance of a skilled workforce for the achievement of socio-economic transformation for the Kenyan populace and actualisation of Kenya’s accelerated growth strategy.

Currently, an acute skills gap exists in the Kenyan market, highlighted by the mismatch between supply and demand. This gap is evidenced by high unemployment rates in the Kenyan market, despite private sector growth. To cure this gap, it is advised that linkages be formed between the world of work, and educational institutions. This will ensure that skill sets introduced into the labour market,  meet the labour market requirements.

On the higher education institutions front, it is up to these institutions to constantly update their offerings based on the market demands. This will ensure that graduates meet a particular skills set demand.  To achieve this, a concerted effort is required from public and private sector employers to ensure that useable data exists to enable higher education institutions offer programs that are actively required in the job market. Consequently, our human capital potential does not remain unused, thereby directly increasing productivity and growth of the labour force.

Further, it is imperative that skills development should not be limited to traditional higher education institutions such as universities and colleges. Focus should also be on non-traditional skills development routes such as technical vocational and education training (TVET) programmes that aim to bridge the skills gap. It is commendable that in the recent past the government has shown commitment towards the growth of TVET institutions in Kenya through increased  budgetary allocations.

This notwithstanding, the primary role of government in ensuring that skills development is accorded priority calls for the creation of an enabling environment that seeks to accelerate socioeconomic development through productivity enhancement. To enable this, it is imperative that we develop our human capital to ensure that our investment in the ‘knowledge economy’ provides ample dividends through expected economic growth.

Karen Kandie – MD IDB Capital