Africa’s Youth Unemployment Challenge and the Pursuit of Soft Skills Development by University Students

Joseph Kweku Assan, Violette Hilda Nalutaaya


This paper seeks to address the growing challenge of youth employment in Kenya. The study explores how the provision and acquisition of soft skills by university students influence their employability in the current labour market in Kenya. The objective of the paper is to examine the current training programs in soft skills development being offered to university students and the extent to which they enhance the ability of the participants to obtain employment. We use a case study approach to ascertain the opportunities provided by the Employment Training Program which offers mentoring and coaching to young people in key soft and employment skills as they transition from tertiary institutions into the workforce. The paper triangulates quantitative and qualitative methodologies that draw on a pre-training survey, key informant interviews, a post training survey and focus group discussions to inform the study. The research shows that addressing the information gap for job opportunities can help reduce youth unemployment. The development of entrepreneurship, interpersonal skills, public relations and online jobs search skills are amongst the observed training gaps. The findings of the study further indicate that employers are interested in young people who are consistent, reliable, have good communication and presentation skills as well as realistic career expectations. The study concludes that whilst several students seem keen on obtaining soft skills, some are unable to capitalize on the acquisition of such skills to enhance their employment prospects. The paper recommends incorporating employability programs into the Kenyan educational curriculum at the secondary and tertiary levels to address the vicious cycle of unemployment.

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Copyright (c) 2018 Joseph Kweku Assan, Violette Hilda Nalutaaya

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Review of European Studies   ISSN 1918-7173 (Print)   ISSN 1918-7181 (Online)

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