Knowledge for life: Seven seas takes training of IT graduates to a higher level

With rapid changes in technology, constant retraining of ICT professionals and updating of ICT curricular is key if corporates have to remain on top of the ICT ladder.

This calls for Kenyan universities to close the gap existing between Information Communication Technology (ICT)†skills developed in the institutions and the specific skills and competencies demanded by the industry.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case forcing many companies to spend a fortune to retrain fresh IT graduates to fit the job demand.

It is this reality that has seen Seven seas coin a plan of transferring knowledge to students while they are still in colleges so that when they graduate, they are ripe for work without further expensive training.

In the programme dubbed ‘Knowledge for life’ already 60 students have been empowered with skills that are rare to find in the normal curriculum of universities.

According to Ms Betty Macharia, programme manager, Knowledge For Life, which is part of Seven Seas Technologies, the selected students attend lessons at the company’s training centre in Nairobi on weekends.

Here they are exposed to internationally recognized training with certifications in areas like Network, Security, voice, telephony and business applications.

Once the students go through the training, argues Macharia, they are better placed and exposed to latest technologies thus remain relevant in the job market than those who have not gone through the same training.

During the training the students work closely with the experienced professional and this helps in shortening the training. University of Nairobi and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology students have already benefited from the programme with Kenyatta university earmarked to benefit starting June 2011.

Economic drive

"ICT is our economic drive. If all corporates follow suit, there will be a better working environment…the industry is growing, technology is changing fast but is the curriculum changing as fast? That is why we need constant retraining," said Macharia.

Employers are hesitating in absorbing ICT graduates who are deemed as lacking in the requisite skills to match the rapid changes in technology being experienced globally.

"Given the rapid advancement and changes in technology solutions, students have often not been exposed to specializations demanded by the Industry. The result is that they are finding it increasingly difficult to be hired after leaving university," said Macharia.

Seven Seas Technologies, a locally owned and regionally operating information technology solutions provider, urged universities and other institutions of higher learning to partner with the ICT industry to confer students with the requisite IT skills and specialization being demanded at the workplace.

According to Macharia, employers are spending a lot of time and money†retraining †IT graduates to bridge the skills imparted in college and the requirements needed at the work place.

Ms Macharia said despite the large number of students enrolling in IT courses and an equally big number joining the workforce every year, competition for skilled and talented employees continues to rise.

The problem has been compounded by International expansion and competition, which is creating an entirely new set of workforce challenges, which our graduates are not competent to handle.

Among the rapid technological changes happening in Kenya include shift form analogue to digital broadcasting, transition from satellite to fibre optic fibre connectivity and the adoption of e-commerce technologies.

Ms Macharia said that Seven Seas Technologies, under the Knowledge For Life project, had partnered with the University of Nairobi, Strathmore University, Kenyatta University and JKUAT to offer free training to students to equip them with the necessary skills demanded by industry.

She said the Knowledge for Life program was aimed a bridging the talent gap that the Kenyan market is facing by ensuring availability of skill and talent.

The Knowledge for Life programme also offers free advice on technology industry courses, certification in different vendor solutions, open
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