The University of Nairobi is the most preferred source of new staff by Kenyan employers, a new study says.
Graduates from the institution have an employability rate of 38 per cent.
Kenyatta University follows at 30 per cent, Moi (25), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture Technology (JKUAT) 19, Egerton (18), Maseno (18) and Technical University at 10 per cent.
The study by CPS International, a marketing and social research firm, surveyed 67 universities and 50 organisations between November and January.
“The State of Graduate Employability in Kenya” report will be released in Nairobi today.
The top five private universities in terms of graduate employability are Mt Kenya at 18 per cent, United States International University-Africa (six), KCA (six), Strathmore (5.8) and Aga Khan at 4.8 per cent.
“For every 10 jobs available, eight are likely to be taken up by public university graduates, especially those from the University of Nairobi, while the other two will likely go to private institutions like Mt Kenya,” the report says.
According to the study, some 81 per cent of employed graduates are from local universities while 17 are from institutions abroad.
Firms that took part in the survey say they prefer business and economics studies, engineering, ICT, social and behavioural sciences, humanities and medical science graduates.
The report shows that 47 per cent of the employed graduates took business and economics, engineering (11), medical courses (8.9), ICT and natural sciences (6.7) art and design (4.4) and humanities and others two per cent.
Universities with the highest employability rate for their graduates are also the most preferred by learners who are already in employment.
The top five universities with the highest number of working students are Nairobi, Kenyatta, Moi, JKUAT and Maseno.
Private institutions with a high number of working learners are Mt Kenya, USIU-Africa, Strathmore, Nazarene and KCA.
Most of the employers (84 per cent) interviewed consider work experience as the most important aspect when recruiting staff. Some 73 per cent named skills, hobbies and talents.
Sixty seven per cent of employers cited volunteerism while only 21 per cent considered internship to be important.
The most valued skills among employers are basic numeracy and literacy, ICT, ability to work in a team, positive attitude, strong communication abilities, decision-making and organisation.
“Studying overseas is not so much of an issue for new graduates, considering that only 11 per cent of employers think it is an added advantage,” the survey says, adding that 28 per cent of new recruits are local graduates with at least three-month experience.
Some 24 per cent of new recruits are local graduates with no experience. Asked if the reputation of universities has a bearing on graduate employability, some 54 per cent said it does, while 26 per cent consider it inconsequential.
“This means graduates from universities that are ranked high and with a good reputation have a higher chance of employment than those poorly perceived,” the report says.
While 56 per cent of the employers say they are satisfied with the quality of newly hired graduates, 33 per cent say the recruits do not meet their expectations in terms of skills and general knowledge.
Employers dissatisfied with the quality of graduates cite a high on-the-job-training cost and general acceptability of the recruits.
They also say the prestige attached to some universities makes some graduates expensive to recruit.
Graduates from universities based in cities often demand more salary than those from rural areas.
Employers called for closer cooperation between them and the institutions in curriculum design and study programmes.
The study sought to determine the employability of Kenyan graduates, employer views on their quality and the skills they consider most important.
The survey generally agrees with a similar study by Madison Insurance in 2017 titled: “The Higher Education Sector Survey”, which quoted Nairobi, JKUAT, Kenyatta, Moi, Egerton, Maseno and Masinde Muliro as the most preferred public universities by employers.
Top favoured private universities were Strathmore, Daystar and Catholic University of Eastern Africa.