CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

Kenya: Demand for New IT Graduates Up As Employers Seek Local Talent

Kenya's IT graduates are selling like hot cake as regards employment opportunities as corporates shift their focus to local talent instead of expatriates.

According to a study released by a consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY), Kenyan industries are cutting their reliance on expatriate talent making slow but steady steps towards developing local specialised talent. The 'EY 2013/14 sub-Saharan Africa Talent Trends and Practices' Survey indicates that more human resource departments are anticipating a lower demand for expatriate talent in the next 12 months compared to a higher demand for local talent over the same period

The survey also indicates that expatriates occupy a critical part of the human resource landscape and are typically used to plug strategic skills gap in labour markets, start up new businesses in green field sites and lead organisations.

"The reliance on expatriates is problematic. Companies need to build the capability to facilitate skills transfer from expatriates to local employees, as this will become a vital competitive differentiator. At present, however, it is clear that companies across the region lack this capability," states the report. In the IT industry, expatriates form a bulk of employees since most of the prominent companies in the sector are either new or multinationals in their first phase of presence in Kenya.

In an earlier study released in 2011 by the ICT authority, up to 33 per cent of companies in the country choose to employ foreign nationals to fill in vacancies in their IT departments due to lack of requisite skills. Work permits Last month, Information, Communication, and Technology Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang'i stated the Government would assist multinational firms get work permits for their workers in the country.

According to the Standard Digital News, Victor Kyalo, CEK, Kenya ICT Authority, said the Government has been working with the private sector and the universities to increase the share of local talent in the ICT industry, "We are working with universities to help them develop a curriculum relevant to the current needs and trends in the industry but one cannot rule out the participation of expatriates all together because even Silicon Valley has a large participation from expatriates," he said.

According to a survey 53 per cent of organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa anticipate hiring fewer expatriates and only 16 per cent anticipate hiring more. This trend, it adds, is particularly clear in the professional and technical/operational staffing categories -- the skills most in demand.

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