Personal Finance

Kenyan job market is a death bed for Talent.

Talent, Katy Perry

When it comes to talent identification, my in-laws from the lake take the trophy. They are good at identifying toddler talent. That is why each of the kids will have a talent nickname. You will be introduced to a two-year Civil Engineer carrying a doll and a less than one year Doctor suckling.

Unfortunately, that is where it ends, showbiz for guests and relatives. Yet Talent identification is such a key ingredient to high productivity at an individual, organizational and country level. For an entrepreneur, this matter of talent is make or break for your startup. Hire the right people and see your organization grow exponentially.

Katy Perry, born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, now a famous singer and songwriter was nudged on by her father who would pay her ten dollars to perform at functions and dinner tables. She was taken to attend voice training while young in order to actualize her talent. It paid off a few years later.

In Kenya, our school systems do not have a way of identifying talent at an early age.  In other countries, sporting talents are discovered and nurtured early in sports academies. The football academies in Europe are a good example.

Kenyan parents are notorious at being absent, either working or partying hence have little time to observe their kids to encourage a talent.

Once someone has been reading anything and everything in high school, he goes to University to read for something mostly decided by the Joint Admission Board. This is true because the criteria for accepting someone in the degree of his choice only works for the very first few top performers but as you come into the general populace, then “picky picky pongy; you Education,  me Sociology”  is used to throw you into a Bachelors in teaching or sociology. It beats logic to have someone go to school for twenty plus years reading everything only to realize he was always a rugby player, like Collins Injera.

After university, the Kenyan job hunting scene is a “deathbed” for Talent. Most graduates will tell you “find me any job, just any, so I can start earning something”.  Employers in Kenya take advantage of this desperation, put round pegs in square holes believing it is good for their employee retention. That is why you will find dentists working in Banks, yet we complain of lack of dentists as a country.

Most organizations have a talent development department whose main aim is to source, nurture and grow the talent they have. I would really love to eavesdrop on a conversation between this dentist working in a bank and the talent manager. It would be something like;

Talent manager; Hi James, today we would like to discuss how you can further your talent in the bank noting that you are a trained dentist.

James; Yes sir. In fact, I have thought about it and I think I was always a Banker; I would like to go and further my studies at the school of monetary science.

What just happened? A dentist, whom we took seven years to train will take another two-three years to study banking, really?

Currently, there is a notion that employing someone from completely outside the field of study will lead to fresh and innovative thinking. We sight examples like Caroline Mutoko who succeeded in media despite her non-media background, yet no one goes behind the scenes to tell you how many hours and shillings of training she had to put in to be what she is.

Generalizing a few successes is a serious management fallacy that must be condemned as wasteful and inefficient. It is tantamount to accepting that we are unable to spot talent at its nascent stage. Part of primary teacher training should be dedicated talent identification.

Safaricom academy, setup with the intention to nurture entrepreneurial talent is a brilliant idea; we need more of these if this country is to increase productivity tenfold.

As a parent, the extra effort put in to identify and nurture your child’s talent can pay off quickly. The piano classes and swimming classes can propel your family to quick riches when your son or daughter succeeds. Examples such as the swimming  Dunfords’ should inspire us. This requires that you are sober and not excessively hungied on Saturday mornings for you to send your boy or girl to that swimming gala or to that rugby camp to help them grow their talent.

In closing, talent management should not be left to institutions, employers or worse the government. As a parent or guardian, the success of your child is your success and you must put in all the effort to nurture and grow this talent.


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