Skills training in engineering courses in institutes of technology and the labour market requirements in Kenya
Limboro, Charity M.
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Kenya has set an ambitious goal of becoming industrialised by the year 2030. The availability of well educated and relatively well trained workforce is regarded as critical to industrialisation. To achieve this goal, Technical, Vocational, Education and Training (TVET) institutions are charged with the major responsibility of preparing trainees with relevant knowledge and skills required in the labour market in order to enhance their productivity. Although the Government of Kenya has been expanding education and training institutions for more than 40 years, there has been an underlying worry that education and training have not translated into the economic gains associated with education. It is against this background that the study investigated the relevance of knowledge and skills acquired at the Institutes of Technology (IT) to the needs of the labour market. The current study focused on the three engineering courses namely: Building and Civil Engineering, Electrical & Electronics, and Building and Civil Engineering. The study adopted the case study approach and used both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis techniques. This study was carried out in the Institutes of Technology in the former Nyanza and Central Provinces and selected industries in the city of Nairobi. The research involved four Institutes of Technology and 15 companies. The sample size of the study consisted of 173 respondents including 130 graduates, 12 lecturers, 12 heads of department, 3 lecturers in-charge of industrial attachment, 15 supervisors and the officer in-charge of curriculum for IT at Kenya Institutes of Education. Data was collected using a questionnaire, interview guides, and an observation schedule. In addition, documentary analysis that entailed reading through documents was used as a strategy of data collection. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) computer programme was used to analyse quantitative data while qualitative data was analysed according to themes derived from the research questions. The findings of the study revealed that there was an education and training gap, suggesting that the Institutes of Technology did not adequately prepare the graduates with the knowledge and skills needed in the labour market. The Technical Education Programme (TEP) curriculum was outdated as it had not been reviewed since its inception in the 1980s, and there was little involvement of the industry in the development and review of curriculum. More so, the equipment at the Institutes of Technology were inadequate, outdated or broken down. As a result, the graduates required further training upon employment to equip them with the skills on how to handle modem equipment in industry. Further, the study found out that IT were faced with very many challenges such as lack of sufficient funds, lack of industrial exposure by the lecturers, ineffective industrial attachment programmes for the trainees and inadequate professional qualifications for the lecturers. The study recommends that there is need to analyse the TVET modular curriculum awaiting approval from the Ministry of Higher Education and Kenya Examinations Council to ensure that it is relevant to the needs of the labour market. The involvement of key persons from the industry in curriculum review and development would be necessary to ensure that the graduates have employability skills. The Ministry of Higher Education needs to ensure that the facilities being used at the IT are up-to-date and/or the IT should make arrangements for simulation exercises or to share facilities at the workplaces during training. Teachers Service Commission (TSC) should grant leave with pay to lecturers willing to upgrade their professional qualifications. Trainees' industrial attachments should be well coordinated to ensure that they benefit from them maximally. Lastly, IT need to provide opportunities for staff to gain exposure and experience in the use of new tools and equipment used in the labour market