Taken from eleapsoftware.com
On-the-job training is regarded as one of the most effective ways to curb skill gaps at the workplace. However, this requires employers to invest monetary and non-monetary resources into training sessions and mentorship programmes. The repurcussions of under-prepared employees in the workplace reinforces the need for on-the-job training.
A report released by the Aga Khan University’s East Africa Institute highlights that, in Kenya, the most common motivation for not training the workforce ranged from prohibitive costs, fear of trained staff being poached by competitors, and a lack of internal capacity to train. Financial strain is a point highlighted in the FKE Skills Mismatch Report 2018 which states that employers spend an average of 20,000 Kenyan Shillings to train fresh graduates.
The 2019 Survey looked at employers, employees and key stakeholders from different economic sectors, and collected data from across 24 Kenyan counties regarding on-the-job training in the modern work-place.
From the survey findings, slightly more than half of the surveyed entry-level employees (both skilled and unskilled) in the formal and informal sectors had received on-the-job training since they were employed. Employers cite that the training was mostly done internally to increase employee productivity (81% in both the formal and informal), while some cited training was conducted as either a company policy (41% formal and 33% informal) or on a needs-basis (38% formal and 25% informal). In most cases, the employer determined the need for training (65%) while in other cases, both the employer and employee together determined the need for training (30%).
According to the IMD World Talent Ranking 2019, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden are the top three countries in attracting, developing and retaining employees. The top of the ranking is led by European countries, all of which share similar social attributes. These include investing in education, high quality of life for foreign and domestic talent, and provision of development opportunities for employees throughout their entire professional careers. Similarly, Professor Arturo Bris, director of the IMD World Competitive Centre states: “Most leading economies emphasise long-term talent development by focusing on investment and development. This emphasis, however, goes beyond purely academic aspects to encompass the effective implementation of apprenticeships and employee training. Such an approach ensures a consistent alignment between talent demand and supply.”
Although not a part of the World Talent ranking, lessons that Kenya can learn from top ranking countries with high employee retention rates include: collaboration with training institutions, job placement of students throught well-structured programmes, proper contractual agreements with employees to minimise the risk of poaching, and incentives by the government to encourage long-term development of employees throughout their entire career. By partnering with training institutions to give students the opporunity to enage in attachments, internships and apprenticeships; industry players could offer cost-efficient, on-the-job training and later retain those students they invested in training. This would also be a win-win situation for both employers and employees as not only are the youth guaranteed a job post-graduation, but this also reduces employers’ fear of poaching.
In the long run, adequate training structures guided by context-specific policies and incentives from the government promotes much needed on-the-job training at the workplace. Ultimately, this could lead to a long-term alignment between talent demand and supply.
Mercy Karumba is an EAI research assistant conducting research on youth and employment in Kenya’s formal and informal sectors.