Graduates’ employability skills in East Africa

  • Lourdes Guàrdia Psychology and Educational Sciences Department of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
  • Federica Mancini Psychology and Educational Sciences Department of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
  • Pedro Jacobetty Psychology and Educational Sciences Department of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
  • Marcelo Maina Psychology and Educational Sciences Department of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Keywords: East Africa, Higher Education, Skills gap, Employability, Employability skills, Competencies, labour market, graduates

Abstract

This paper reports a study about the perceptions of the academic community, employers and civil servants regarding graduates’ employability skills in East Africa. Specifically, it focuses on the mismatch between skills acquired in Higher Education (HE) and those in demand by employers, and explores factors influencing the situation. A mixed method approach was implemented including a survey and a set of focus groups. The questionnaire on employability skills was distributed among regional stakeholders attending the Open Day events organised by three East African HE Institutions. A Principal Components Analysis was applied for the categorisation of the most in-demand skills and the identification of four major workplace skill sets. To gain further insights into the stakeholders’ perceptions of the graduate employability skills gap, 11 focus groups were organised at the same universities. The general results showed that employability skills were mostly perceived as insufficiently developed during the students’ progress in their programs. The final results enabled a better understanding of the nuanced relationship between labour market valuation and graduates’ acquisition of each skill set. It also allowed us to identify problems and barriers, and suggest possible solutions to overcome the shortcomings experienced by the sub-Saharan HE system.

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Author Biographies

Lourdes Guàrdia, Psychology and Educational Sciences Department of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Lourdes Guàrdia Ortiz is an associate professor of educational technology, Department of Psychology and Education, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, director of the Master in Education and ICT (e-learning), and an Edul@b research group member. Her areas of research include e-assessment, e-portfolio, competency-based learning, learning design, teaching professional development, and emerging pedagogies.
Federica Mancini, Psychology and Educational Sciences Department of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Federica Mancini is a research assistant of the Edul@b Research group, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. She has participated in several research and development initiatives on digital education. Her background encompasses expertise in project management, research, and dissemination strategies for different target groups. Her research interests are the applications of innovative learning methodologies and technologies.
Pedro Jacobetty, Psychology and Educational Sciences Department of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Pedro Jacobetty holds a bachelor and master degree in Sociology from Lisbon University Institute (ISCTE-IUL) and a doctoral degree in the Information and Knowledge Society Doctoral Programme of the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), Open University of Catalonia (UOC).

His main interests are related to the social and cultural dimensions of networked digital technologies, particularly their relations to knowledge, visibility, and subjectivities.


Marcelo Maina, Psychology and Educational Sciences Department of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Marcelo Fabián Maina is an associate professor of educational technology, Department of Psychology and Education, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona. He is a member of the Edul@b research group. His research interests focus on open education, competency-based education, 21st century skills, e-portfolio, learning design methods and tools, and emerging digital pedagogies.

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Published
2021-06-23
How to Cite
Guàrdia, L., Mancini, F., Jacobetty, P., & Maina, M. (2021). Graduates’ employability skills in East Africa. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 12(2), 169-184. https://doi.org/10.21153/jtlge2021vol12no2art988
Section
JOURNAL PAPERS