• Gakuu says the decision to find internship placements for their students was informed by both research and an outcry by many jobless graduates.
• He is a firm believer that education ought to make a tangible difference in a student’s career prospects.
A college in Nairobi is now looking for internship placements for its students to bridge the experience gap for graduates entering the job market.
Air Travel and Related Studies Centre is ensuring all its learners are placed with a potential employer where they acquire the experience of doing the actual work upon graduation.
"At every job interview, the ‘experience’ question is bound to pop up. No employer wants to hire a greenhorn," ATRSC managing director Charles Gakuu says.
He is a firm believer that education ought to make a tangible difference in a student’s career prospects.
“The Kenyan economy is at a point where it needs workers and people who will do the job. Unfortunately, many college students graduate with theoretical knowledge rather than actual skills," he says.
Gakuu says the decision to find internship placements for their students was informed by both research and an outcry by many jobless graduates.
A study titled ‘Students’ Experience of Industrial Attachment: A Case of a Public University’, researchers Hoseah Kiplagat, Jennifer Khamasi and Rachel Karei found out that students struggle individually to find internships, forcing them to take up ‘anything’ that comes their way.
The researchers recommend that institutions of higher learning should consider taking over the responsibility of scouting for and enrolling students for industrial attachment, noting that not having internship experience impacts negatively to the extent that graduates leave school ill-prepared for the workplace.
Kenya does not rank well when worker education is matched against job-required education.
According to the Jobs Working Paper by the World Bank, more than 40 per cent of Kenyans in the workforce are undereducated and are not properly skilled.
Only 34.5 per cent of the country’s workforce has the requisite education for the job.
“I'm really relieved because I know people who have really struggled to get attachment in their areas of expertise. It is demoralising to say the least. Attachment is important because it gives you actual experience,” Nuria Hussein says.
She is an ATRSC student studying a diploma in cabin crew, and is currently attached to Tradewinds Aviation at Wilson Airport.
The prevailing style has been that students seek attachment on their own. All they get from the institution is a general letter written "To whom it may concern".
The career coach says colleges and industry need to forge a closer working relationship to allow more students to get industrial attachment with ease.
Gakuu says ATRSC has been able to guarantee its students an industrial placement spot “by forging relationships with different players” in the aviation, tourism and hotel industries.
“We have entered into official partnerships with them. We have nurtured our relationship with them in a way that they sometimes feel comfortable to even call and ask for students ready for attachment,” he says.
The study by Kiplagat, Khamasi and Karei is published in volume 7 of the Journal of African Studies in Educational Management and Leadership.