by Robert Manyara

Two years ago, Winnie Koech graduated with a degree in journalism from a Kenyan university.
However, her dream of becoming a radio presenter is yet to come true as many of the media organizations demanded experience in the area.
“My three-month internship at a community radio is the only experience I have. The employers I have meant prefer someone with a more than six-month experience,” Koech said in an interview with Xinhua.
The journalism graduate, who now works with a non-governmental organization as a research assistant, is pessimistic of ever securing the job she wished for since she was young.
It was bitter sweet music to her listening to the country’s Finance Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich announcing a tax rebate incentive to employers who engage at least 10 fresh graduates for six to 12 months.
As presented by Rotich during the reading of the 2015/16 budget, the initiative is to encourage employers develop a skilled human resource for the country’s economy.
“I wish that was in place in 2012 or 2011, I would have benefitted. I still wish someone would give me the chance but I do not see myself going for a six month internship to gain skills in radio broadcasting. It is too late,” said Koech.
“But I am happy that from now on many other fresh graduates will have the opportunity I missed,” she added.
Proper implementation of the initiative would benefit many graduating from the higher learning institutions, with a majority short of practical skills needed in the employment sector, as Koech observes.
Overtime, Kenya Federation of Employers (FKE) has decried of the high levels of unemployability of fresh graduates, citing lack of the relevant skills in areas of interest.
In Kenya, 51 percent of graduates were unemployable. Despite the introduction of the tax rebate for the employers, local experts in human resource development maintain that there is more need to bridge the gap in skill building among the fresh graduates.
“It is very important that graduates get practical exposure to how things are done in the organizations or institutions,” said George Gongera, a human resource expert.
Gongera says internship is leeway to upscaling skills and understanding market dynamics, putting one in a better position for employment.
“Employers have their own right to engage fresh graduates and they can tap on their potential to grow. The fresh graduates equally need to prove their worth during internship to increase their chances of being employed,” he said.
The country, he said, is in need of huge skilled workforce as the government lays emphasis on expansion of investments in the private sector.
According to Kenya’s 2015 Economic Survey, the private sector took up 80 percent of the job opportunities created in 2014, with only 20 percent share going into the public sector.
In the recent years, Kenya has made discoveries in oil, rare earth minerals, gold and coal, changing the shape of the country’s human resource needs.
Bringing to the table such economic arrangements as tax waiver or exemption is part of the progressive efforts made by the government to motivate local and multinational firms with exceptional expertise to pass on to graduates.
“We need to have a model where students can have more than just an exposure to a working environment. They ought to have technical skills applicable across the world,” noted education expert Tom Nyamache.
The scholar said establishing a reliable human resource is significant for the country as it strives to build a strong base for a middle income economy. Enditem



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