The Kenyan economy is growing steadily at 5.6%, good news, we are experiencing one of the highest layoffs in recent history, bad news. This has been termed as an Economic Paradox and a social nightmare. How do you lose so many jobs in a steadily growing economy? I believe the answer to this lies in the skill sets possessed by our young people and the skills that the ‘New Economy’ needs. The new economy needs skills that help people build networks, relationships and people skills that potentially can be leveraged commercially.
Today, if you step into any university in Kenya and specifically go to the Business school, an age long practice will be found. So many students would possibly be busy with calculators balancing equations either on cost accounting, management accounting, Financial accounting among other business mathematics. This will be done repeatedly for 4 years with in between units on marketing, entrepreneurship and business management. After this, the fully trained graduates will be released to the job market and start tarmacking for jobs.
Some will immediately land to the doorsteps of big and small banks, micro-finance institutions and SACCO with their CVs showing their clear qualifications and suitability. But then on the Flip-side the same institutions (corporates and SMEs) are struggling with some different realities, the accounting, among other responsibilities.
What graduates want to be hired for today is already being done by a software, the loans that the graduates want to come and verify are already being verified through checks and balances in place at Credit reference bureaus. Worth noting is that you realize most of the people affected by this massive job losses are graduates with this among other training. Consider the Sage accounting software being used by most companies in Kenya and around Africa. Most interesting, it is developed in South Africa. It does all the accounting calculations including processing employees payroll.
But let’s do a fast reality check. where is a Bachelor of Commerce graduate likely to be employed? maybe a bank as an accountant, loan officer in most cases tellers? in a supermarket and a fast Moving Consumer goods company? a manufacturing entity as an accountant. But in reality what is happening? while the universities curriculums are still fixated in places where the old jobs were, the reality on where the new jobs are will be a shocker to these institutions of higher learning. or is already becoming a shocker to the universities
Consider this, a while back a worker in a plantation farm needed to visit a bank countless times to check whether their salary has checked in. This meant that he would have to request the supervisor in-charge for permission every half month or end month just to go do this. Sometimes, it would be a tedious back and forth as they walk to the tellers or customer care desk and they are given a No. It resulted to wasted man hours, anxiety and lack of focus not just to one employee but to the others as well. Flip forward to today, a farmer in Kiambu only requires a feature phone whether connected to the internet or not to do the work that the teller used to do. He can generate a mini-statement while in the farm, check his balance and to the minimum request a loan or what loan officers call TOD within seconds and without moving from where they are.
Additionally, while a supermarket in the past required so many accountants to calculate how much money they are making in a day, procurement officer to know what stocks are depleted and needs to be procured and so many other roles. This work is now almost fully taken up by Enterprise and Financial management solutions that not only give real time data of financials but also develop logical consumption patterns.
Two things here, the age-old professions are being disrupted like never before and the new jobs require skills that our universities and colleges have for long put in the back seat.
A bank today mostly requires relationship people more than they require accountants, they require people trained in soft and core skills more than they require technical people, because, and please take note any job that is Logical, procedural and sequential will be disrupted and replaced by technologies.
I believe it is time to have our young people aligned to the new on-demand skills while leveraging technologies such as smartphones to reach them for training wherever they are and at their convenience.
Cognizant of this, Kuza Biashara have come up with a program to empower young women with Social media and digital marketing skills. This is aimed at addressing daily concerns people get from their 1 million young people visiting their site daily with concerns of what to do next. They shall be giving this New jobs Skills for the first cohort starting with 50 girls/ladies from marginalized communities starting in the month of March this year 2017.
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