Computer hardware company, IBM is eyeing big contracts in cyber security, Mobile applications and business analytics, with plans to train over 8,000 local graduates in technical skills for entry level jobs.
The American multinational said it will invest $60 million over the next three years as part of its African Skills initiative to develop the next generation of African technical talent targeted at 20 African countries.
In Kenya, it has partnered with Kenya Education Network, (KENET) to help connect to local universities and leverage on its high speed broadband infrastructure to roll out the courses.
“The initiative offers a big growth opportunity for our East African business by offering us and the market with a ready pool to hire skills at the point of entry,” said IBM East Africa, University relations country leader, John Baptist Matogo.
The partnership targets undergraduates taking courses in computer sciences and electrical engineering in readiness for their first jobs after college by boosting their employability with hands on skills.
According to KENET 35 universities offer the courses in Kenya with 5,000 students enrolled in computer sciences and 3,000 in telecommunication and electrical engineering faculties-enrolment rate for these course stands at 10 percent annually.
Already 1,600 students in the country have been enrolled for IBM certification from 12 universities since the initiative rolled out in October last year.
57 faculties have been certified to deploy the courses while 232 of the 234 trained graduates getting the IBM certification.
Another 27 universities have approved the initiative and are set to join immediately with 33 others expressing interest to join the partnership.
KENET Executive director, Prof. Meoli Kashorda said the initiative creates an opportunity for youths to get jobs and become IT entrepreneurs.
“Industry has been criticizing higher institutions of learning for churning out half-baked graduates. This initiative will address this gap in the market,” said Kashorda.
Top industry experts say thousands of ICT graduates churned to the market annually though equipped with functional and basic ICT skills, most of them lack very important skills needed in project management, risk management and soft skills.
Demand for such skills attributed to growth in internet connection and fast paced trend where companies must leverage on technology to run effective businesses, is piling pressure for institutions of higher learning to review curriculum.
Financial, human resources and retail sectors are the most affected in huge skills gap forcing them to invest billions of shillings to train entry level employees.