Half of graduates in East Africa are unprepared for job market: Study

A study conducted by the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) and the East African Business Council (EABC) to establish employers’ perceptions of graduates shows that more than 50 per cent of university graduates are half-baked as they lack basic workplace proficiencies.

This means university students are graduating without attaining basic and technical skills required in the job market, denying the five East African Community (EAC) economies the quality human capital that they need to grow.

“Universities in the East African region are producing a theoretical, unskilled and unpractical labour force,” Mayunga Nkunya, executive secretary of IUCEA, told an EAC higher education quality assurance forum in Arusha last week.

“Employers told us that graduates lack self-confidence at work, they can’t translate the knowledge they got in universities into work and they normally wait to be told what to do.”

Uganda is the worst

Uganda is the worst among the peers, with only 37 per cent of its graduates fit for the job market, whereas Tanzania has only 39 per cent of its degree holders rated as competent.

Comparatively, 45 per cent and 48 per cent of graduates in Burundi and Rwanda, respectively, are competent for the job market. Kenya has the best rated graduates, with 49 per cent found up to the task.

The findings on the state of higher education in the EAC are a signal that lack of competence in primary and secondary schools is permeating universities, hurting the credibility of students and consequently diluting the quality of the region’s human capital base.

The latest studies by education think-tanks Uwezo and Twaweza East Africa show that children in primary schools are not learning, the worst hit being those in rural schools — at least seven out of 10 Standard Three pupils cannot read a Standard Two-level story.