The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), has been at the forefront in driving or contributing to skills development in Kenya and the Africa continent at large to meet the current and future needs of the labour market. Kenya’s primary goal in skills development is to provide its citizens with the requisite skills that will make them successful as either workers or entrepreneurs in any field of their choice.
For this reason, the Federation has implemented various initiatives to influence policy on skills development. For instance, the Skills Mismatch Survey conducted in 2018 has assisted the Country identify gaps and informed the need for development of the National Skills Development Policy. Furthermore, different employability programmes like the Kenya Youth Empowerment Opportunities Project (KYEOP) emerged as a result of this study to ensure that the Youth have the right skills for the job market.
FKE also conducted a Study on Employers’ Perception and Capacity to implement the Work-Based Training, including Apprenticeships in Kitui, Kilifi and Busia Counties to help SME’s deliver and enhance the quality of their training programmes. Other studies conducted include Skilling East Africa Community and the Study on Free Movement of Labour and Skills in East Africa Community; among others.
Some of the key findings from the studies indicate that Workplace based Training (WBT), although important in providing skills to the youth, are not standardized; training faculties need to have a direct link to employers; the need to harmonise the education and skills development policy with the industrial development policy in the country to ensure that the skills developed meet both the current and future needs of the economy.
The Federation continues to provide leadership in skills development by serving various boards and committees such as the National Industrial Training Authority; the Higher Education Loans Board; the National Employment Authority; and the Commission for University Education; and the Kenya Curriculum Development Institute, among others.
At the Continental level, FKE has been very active on skills development issues through the employers’ organization BUSINESSAfrica - Employers Confederation which hosts and coordinates the Skills Initiative For Africa (SIFA) for the whole of Africa.
We believe that skills development, lifelong learning and reforms in basic education are key to ensuring that the right skills outcome for Kenya. FKE has also advocated for exchange of young workers as envisioned in the East African Community (EAC) Common Market Protocol to ensure that our young people have the required skills, exposure and discipline to compete effectively in the labour market.
Currently, FKE is implementing a Female Future Leadership Programme that aims at building the capacity of women to take on top leadership positions in the corporate world, public institutions and other spheres. We launched the Girls in Technology Programme to inspire more girls to take on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects and also initiated a programme to link industry with the education and training providers both at the Technical and Vocational Education Training ( TVET)and Higher Education level.
The Federation believes that skills development requires concerted efforts therefore, all stakeholders must collaborate to ensure that Kenya gets it right in skills development. The success of any nation in the Future of Work and the Work of the Future will depend on the quality and quantity of skills and competencies that her citizens have to make them compete effectively in the global market.
Our vision is that Kenya will be the to go to country for the acquisition of quality skills to meet the needs of the labour market.
Jacqueline Mugo, EBS
Federation of Kenya Employers, FKE
Coronavirus has been one of the most significant and traumatic experiences in recent times. Already, it has had huge impacts on us as individuals, society and nations. The pandemic has changed how we get work done. While most companies already have continuity plans in place in case of catastrophic events like floods, fires, and other disasters, few – if any – were quite prepared for the level of disruption caused by COVID-19.
It is not known when the current crisis will end for things to go back to normal. Well, some aspects of our lives may go back to the way things were but certainly, for others, it will be the ‘new normal’. One thing is sure, the workplace will never be the same again. The term “workplace” now seems obsolete. Instead, work has now encroached into our bedrooms, sitting rooms and outdoor areas, eating into the family space and time.
The Covid-19 crisis has created an opportunity for people to see the consequence of swift and meaningful change, and to witness the negative impacts of trying to ignore this deviance from everyday life. Within organizations, the virus has been driving significant change in how employees relate to each other, as well as with clients, customers and vendors. Now that companies are shifting past their immediate response to the crisis, we have entered into a temporary “new normal”.
One aspect of jobs that has changed is that people are more comfortable in their space than interacting with clients and colleagues. As a result office meetings have been replaced with virtual engagement. A more virtual workplace will mean a change in operations. Even if the majority of workers are still in the office, some methods, meetings and events could shift to virtual – resulting in a combination of advantages and challenges.
Whereas a virtual approach can create efficiency, it does present obstacles as well –not only in terms of the capacity of our hardware and infrastructure to sustain the digital load but also in areas like employee engagement and culture. Many companies already have high numbers of remote- or home-based workers and experience the challenge of creating connectedness between employees and the company.
The idea of working remotely and having teleconference meetings is nothing new. But after COVID-19, it is likely to become more mainstream than ever. The argument can be made that the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the workforce further down that road. From remote learning for public schools, telemedicine, e-newspapers, every industry has accelerated its own digital transformation. As a result, the demand for highly skilled remote workers will continue to increase.
Organizations should be prepared to recruit and integrate these key individuals into the organization quickly and seamlessly, so that they can capitalize on the cost savings and broader access to talent.
Employers have also woken up to the reality that working “8-5” is unsuited to the demands of a modern workforce. If leaders can place greater emphasis on flexibility for people to achieve their best output, when and how it meets their personal needs, they can reinforce the cultural shift of measuring staff based on performance, which can result in exponential benefits for the organization.
It is, without a doubt, that COVID-19 is driving change in our behaviors at the workplace. Leaders must take-up what’s working today and integrate it quickly into the daily operations. Rather than waiting for re-entry and being reactive, leaders need to prepare and set expectations for the ways of working that will benefit the organization down the road, so that employees can focus on the strategic business priorities of the future. The reality is that the future of work is here.
Executive Director & CEO Federation of Kenya Employers