THE POTENTIAL OF OFFICES OF CAREER SERVICES AND WHAT THAT MEANS FOR STUDENTS
Offices of Career Services – The Genesis, Implementation and the Potential Impact
“It is common knowledge that many graduates from the higher education institutions in Kenya either fail to find employment for far too long or are underemployed. This is partly attributed to lack of skills critical for finding meaningful engagement for wealth creation and better livelihoods. There is need for strategies towards seamless transition from learning to earning. An effective Office of Career Services (OCS) has a critical role to play in this regard. Strategies include counseling services, student/industry linkages, apprenticeships, career fairs, recruitments, venture capitals and graduate-tracker services. It is my hope that implementation of Office of Career Services in Universities and all Tertiary Institutions will bring to fruition the overall goal of the higher education sub-sector, that is, productive engagement for wealth creation and better living standards. ” - Amb. (Dr.) Amina Mohamed, EGH, CAV.
The initiative to call for the establishment of Office of Career Services in all Institutions of Higher Learning was rolled out in 2018; when Amb. Amina Mohamed was the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education. The above quote is from the foreword of the guiding handbook which was put together capturing the general concept, framework and objectives behind the need for offices of career services.
Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT), since inception, has stayed true to her mission of providing an academically stimulating, culturally diverse and quality learning environment that fosters research, innovation and technology development towards producing relevant technical and managerial human resource and leaders to contribute to attainment of national development goals. To achieve this, especially with the changing times and the challenge of high rate of unemployment, the University has continued to adopt various styles of moulding the students in effort to prepare them adequately for the changing world market and the challenges that come with it. In line with this and in cooperating with the Ministry of Education on the bigger picture and separation of tasks which is meant to achieve more effectiveness in students career guidance, DeKUT therefore has fully established an Office of Career Services; DeKUT Office of Career Services (DeKUTOCS).
DeKUTOCS was officially launched on 4th February, 2022 as the first in the country to be launched by the Principal Secretary, State Department of Post Training & Skills Development Mr. Alfred Cheruiyot. In the light of fully operationalizing the office, the day to day endeavors to meet the mission of the office which is, “To create an ecosystem and framework that enables mentoring, career guidance & counseling, skills & professional development, industrial exposure and linkages and empowerment of our students towards producing graduates who are ready for the world of work and entrepreneurship”, have proven that great collaboration within the institutions and between the institution and the industries is required to fully achieve the potential of such an office.
In an operationalization guidelines document for DeKUTOCS, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. P. Ndirangu Kioni quoted the career guidance definition by the World Bank as, “services and activities intended to assist individuals, of any age and at any point throughout their lives, to make educational, training and occupational choices and to manage their careers. Such services may be found in schools, universities and colleges, in training institutions, in public employment services, in the workplace, in the voluntary or community sector and in the private sector. The activities may take place on an individual or group basis, and may be face to face or at a distance (including help lines and web-based services). They include career information provision (in print, ICT-based and other forms), assessment and self-assessment tools, counseling interviews, career education programmes (to help individuals develop their self-awareness, opportunity awareness, and career management skills), taster programmes (to sample options before choosing them), work search programmes, and transition services.” DeKUTOCS has indeed made several strides in this endeavor with great partners; both internal (within the University) and external (from the various industries).
As DeKUTOCS and other Offices of Career Services continue to strive to achieve this much needed objective of preparing and empowering students for the world of work, entrepreneurship and linking them to this world, there is great need for all stakeholders to look at the potential such an office carries with it and step in to be part of the journey. For students, the existence of these offices increases your chances for inspiration and empowerment towards positioning yourself and stepping out into the world more ready to explore a career/ careers you love; as the slogan of DeKUTOCS states, we strive to Inspire and Empower you to build a career you love. Take advantage! Seize the opportunity!