Graduates with soft skills easier to get formal employment

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-15 20:43:26|Editor: ZX
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NAKURU, Kenya, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- When Caroline Biegon was searching for an interior design job after her graduation in 2016, the question of her experience of using learned technical skills was prominent in several interviews she attended.

"It is very disappointing when experience is tagged along for a fresh graduate," Biegon told Xinhua during a recent interview.

"I had to earn an income and so I finally decided to focus on my beauty products business which I had started while in the second year at the university," she added.

Her experience is remarkable. She has built an advertisement presence online and as a result she's receiving 10 orders weekly for her products ranging from face mask, skin toner to body scrub.

"I am learning each day how to grow my business and I am glad I have a mentor to guide me through," said Biegon.

With the additional skill, she is the kind of graduates that employers are currently keen to recruit, according to economic and human resource experts.

Employers have lowered their emphasis on technical skills while raising the bar on soft skills such as innovation, empathy and ability to connect with people.

"In the job market today, employers have stopped laying too much emphasis on hard or technical skills and they have started focusing on soft skills," said Perminus Wainaina, a managing partner at Corporate Staffing Services, a recruitment agency for both local and international firms.

"This is not to say that technical skills have lost their place," he added.

"Since the job market is flooded with equally quipped applicants, employers are turning to soft skills to get them the ideal candidate."

The soft skills such as strong work ethics, self-confidence and strong communication skills would give a job seeker an upper hand in the competition for an employment, said Wainaina.

He noted that less than 20 percent of fresh graduates can effectively deliver upon employment.

"There seems to be a huge gap between what is being taught in schools and what is in the marketplace," said Wainaina.

He said due to the inadequacies among the newly graduated job seekers, employers have resorted to retaining their staff instead of hiring the young and vibrant talent.

"The time and resources used to train the recent graduates is more than most companies are willing to bear," said Wainaina.

Unemployability of fresh graduates is a problem that have proved to be a reality not only in Kenya but across Africa.

At least 51 percent of graduates in Kenya are unemployable while in Rwanda, a country rapidly growing out of the ruins of genocide, the employability figures stand at 52 percent, based on 2014 research findings by Inter-University for East Africa and the East African Business Council.

In neighboring Uganda and Tanzania, some 63 percent and 61 percent respectively lack the qualifications to be absorbed into formal employment.

The experts, however, call for a change of tact both at individual and institutional level.

Tom Nyamache, a professor of economics at the Turkana University College, said employers are more interested in employing individuals with capacity of advancing performance of a firm or organization than those who need trainings in order to bring them to the appropriate organizational standards.

"Employers are now more open to bringing on board those graduates who have proved to be innovative and working hard towards achieving something. It's not just about academic papers," said Nyamache.

He said graduates must take the initiative to engage in a venture that showcases their skills as this would give them a leverage in the job market.

"It is time learning institutions focused on sharpening students' capability of practice. The students will have build pre-requisite skills to formal employment or self-employment by the time they graduate," said Nyamache.

Nyamache and a growing number of experts believe that having market-tailored and updated courses is one of the most effective ways to bridge the gap between what is taught in school and what is practiced in the workplace.