Training for BPO/ITes workforce ready for roll out at University of Nairobi

Certificate courses to be offered by end of year to self-sponsored students

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Nairobi, 28th June, 2013: The BPO/ITes industry is set to benefit from high level skills as the government is now ready to offer training to students at the Center of Excellence (CoE) set-up at the University of Nairobi. The training is meant to bridge the skills gap prevalent in Kenya outsourcing industry.

A breakfast meeting held on 28th June, led by the Kenya ICT Board, the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology implementing body, appraised industry players on the progress thus far made and what is needed to roll out to would be students.

“Research has revealed that there is a mismatch between what is offered at the universities and what the industry requires. The course is supposed to sharpen the skills level of our students to increase their employability,” says Andrew Lewela, Project Manager, BPO/ITes Kenya ICT Board.

The CoE has been developing a curriculum and assessment tool using global standards that is supposed to impart skills for graduates in the BPO/ITes industry. Already 20 trainers of the curriculum have been prepared to teach the courses and 40 students are undergoing training on the pilot phase.  The self-sponsored training is expected to be industry driven come the end of the year with 5,000 students expected to benefit each year.

The meeting attended by government, academia and private sector players, enlisted stakeholders support to offer internships and employment to the CoE graduates once they complete training.  It will also focus on reviewing and recommending a CoE management structure that incorporates all the relevant stakeholders including academia, industry and government.

“There is need to create employment for the youth by extending ICT knowledge to the region,” Prof Elijah Omwenga, the CoE Project Leader and lecturer at the University of Nairobi. He also indicated the need for a body which will offer certification to those undertaking training like KASNEB or KNEC.

Students of the 3-month certificate course are expected to get essentials skills in critical thinking, communication and technology. They will also be equipped with personality skills such as agility, adaptability and attitude.  To qualify for the course, students require a minimum of a form four level certificate. Expectations are that the course will in future be offered as a bachelor’s certificate.

The project is led by Kenya ICT Board in partnership with BPO/ITes companies and the academic community.

The chair, Kenya Information Technology and Outsourcing society, Tejpal Bedi said: “We will drive KITOs members to offer employment to all the trainees in the pilot program.  We will also consider sponsoring students for the CoE program in future.”

Being a key pillar and driver of social and economic development in the Kenya Vision 2030 CoE seeks to create employment for youth in Kenya. The Government of Kenya has been keen to take up a focused BPO/ITes skills development initiative in close collaboration with the industry. The vision for the Center is that it eventually offer diploma and bachelor certificated and become a regional training hub for the BPO/ITes industry catering to training needs in the region. It will also be rolled out to other Kenya and East African training centres.

Kenya ICT Board and CoE

In the economic pillar of Vision 2030, BPO was identified as a key component of creating jobs and wealth in Kenya. To achieve this, the Kenya ICT Board was given the mandate to co-ordinate all initiatives in the sector.

This led to the creation of BPO/ITes, a branch of outsourcing that involves contracting the operations and responsibilities of specific business functions to a third party specialist who can do the job more cost effectively. ITes focuses on everything that is IT-oriented. Initially the aim was to attract global players seeking entry in the African Continent, but with later insights now includes serving the domestic market.

However, BPO companies fail to find the right people with the right skills in the market posing a challenge on the competitive of the Kenyan businesses.  The national Julisha ICT Survey, 2011 noted that although an estimated 9,600 professionals are added to the Kenya ICT market each year, a third of the companies’ surveyed plan to contract external providers.

As Kenya positions itself to be Africa ICT hub with massive investment in initiatives like Konza Technology City, the need to address the skills gap is vital. To address the disparity, the Kenya ICT Board will be offering relevant training through the Centre of Excellence in partnership with industry players. It is hoped that 5,000 BPO/ITes graduates will be imparted with cutting-edge skills each year.

The Training was bench marked against India and the Philippines, the world leading outsourcing destinations.

ENDS

For More Information: Phyllis Nyambura; pnyambura@ict.go.ke Tel No: +254 20 2089061/2211960

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