The Department of Horticulture and Food Security in the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (SOAES), organized a seminar Wednesday, February 9, 2022 that saw students interact with officials from Highchem Group of Companies that provides agro-based solutions to farmers and currently also offers internships and attachment and job opportunities to JKUAT graduates.
The seminar whose overarching theme was: Industrial Training and Partnerships, provided an important platform for students to share knowledge and ideas aimed at ensuring they are well grounded in matters related to the industry’s job requirements, demands and expectations.
The students comprised of those in second and third year of study currently on attachment as well as those who have freshly completed their studies but not graduated, all drawn from the two programmes offered in the Department of Horticulture and Food Security, namely; BSc. Horticulture and BSc. Agriculture.
Prof. Elijah Ateka, Dean, SOAES, noted that while institutions of higher learning have been lauded for coming up with solution based researches, the industries, he said, are equally critical as they play an important role in the implementation of the research outcomes, thus ascertaining their effectiveness on the ground.
“Partnering with the industry is important for both entities as they both complement each other from exchange of ideas, technical support as well as ensuring our students are market ready through internships and attachments, Prof. Ateka asserted.
Prof. Ateka further said, strengthening collaboration with industry through Memorandum of Understanding (MoU’s) and other available avenues will be essential up scaling expertise of staff as well as students thus improving the skills set of prospective employees.
He also appealed to the students to be steadfast in their studies and ensure they set achievable goals that will guide them accordingly further urging them to use the information imparted to them wisely.
Fields Sales Coordinator, Mr. Kennedy Mugambi drew from his own personal experience and called on the students to be innovative and identify solutions to problems faced by the industry. This he explained, would make them assets to potential companies that are keen to hire.
“Compared to yester years, employment opportunities today are quite scarce yet the number of graduates entering the job market is ballooning every year, leading to increase in unemployment. This leads to only the best qualified being handpicked by companies,” noted Mr. Mugambi.
He urged students to ensure they manage their expectations and avoid setting unrealistic goals once they graduate.
Acting Chairman, Department of Horticulture and Food Security, Dr. Leonard Kirika, encouraged the students to interact with industry players and understand the potential employer’s expectations from the students once they finish their studies. Dr. Kirika also called for further collaboration between the university and the industry to help prepare students for the world of work.
Lauding the events’ impact, Simon Mwangi, a second year Bachelor of Horticulture student thanked the department for organizing the event saying he had learnt the importance of professionalism as well as how to write a good proposal.
He appreciated Highchem for availing internships for students and requested for more similar events that will ensure students get a better understanding of the job market.
Dean of Students, Prof. Fridah Wanzala and Highchem Registration and Product Development Officer, Mr. Felix Mungai also spoke at the seminar.