For the third time in three years in Kenya, employers in the heath sector and their prospective employees came face to face at a forum in Nairobi, on 19th July, 2018, to exchange their respective perspectives on employment opportunities and the norms in the health care sector in the country.

The forum, which was organized by the USAID funded HRH Kenya Mechanism and the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB), brought together institutions and organizations that employ health workers, and prospective employees, who were mainly students and graduates from medical training institutions.

At the forum, held under the aegis of the Afya Elimu Fund, employers from five County Public Service Boards representing five counties, faith based health facilities, health service delivery non-governmental organizational  and the private health facilities, offered advice to the prospective employees on how to approach prospective employers and how to make themselves competitive in the job market. The employers also offered career guidance on how to become successful employees in the health sector. The five counties represented include Kiambu, Kitui, Makueni, Muranga and Nairobi.

Afya Elimu Fund (AEF) is a joint venture between the HRH Kenya Mechanism, Ministry of Health, the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB), and the private sector. The AEF provides low interest loans to meet training fees for needy students undergoing medical training in middle level medical courses. The fund is administered by HELB.

Since its inception in 2013, 18211 students have benefitted from the fund. Out of these, 4,814 have graduated, and only 25% of these graduates have been absorbed in employment.

“The fundamental issue is that they (graduates) are not being absorbed yet we have a shortage of health workers in the country,” said Dr. Wasunna Owino, IntraHealth International Country Director for Kenya and Chief of Party of the HRH Kenya Mechanism, in his key note address at the forum.

He appealed to both the national government and County Public Service Boards to consider giving priorities to the beneficiaries of the AEF to enable them repay their loans for the sustainability of the fund. “We also request employers to assist us in tracking the graduates (who are AEF beneficiaries) in their institutions,” he said, adding that the forum was a great opportunity for the students and graduates to interact with employers to learn about the processes and norms of employment in the health sector.

On his part, HELB CEO, Charles Ringera, described the AEF as a very successful portfolio that has been sold to succeed. “I hope the employers will increase their rate of absorption,” he said.

Other contributors to AEF include Standard Chartered Bank, Rattansi Educational Trust, The Family Group Foundation, I&M Bank and the County Government of Kakamega.

According to Benjamin Mutie, the Chairperson of Makueni County Public Service Board, an employer, counties need more resources so that they can open more facilities and consequently employ more health workers.

At the end of the forum, the participants recommended that the partnership between the AEF and the Counties should be enhanced; that counties can provide opportunity to AEF graduates who can work there as temporary staff; and that induction is key towards setting values and principles and culture at the workplace. They also recommended close engagement with Council of Governors and County Executives in charge of finance to mobilize resources for human resource expansion. The forum also recommended that the list of graduates who are AEF beneficiaries be availed to recruiters.

Philip Kungu, Chairperson of Nairobi County Public Service Board, who is also the chairperson of the County Public Service Boards chairpersons’ forum, makes his contribution during a panel discussion by County Public Service Boards at the Employers’ Forum. On his left is Benjamin Mutie, the Chairperson of Makueni County Public Service Board.

On his part, HELB CEO, Charles Ringera, described the AEF as a very successful portfolio that has been sold to succeed. “I hope the employers will increase their rate of absorption,” he said.

Other contributors to AEF include Standard Chartered Bank, Rattansi Educational Trust, The Family Group Foundation, I&M Bank and the County Government of Kakamega.

According to Benjamin Mutie, the Chairperson of Makueni County Public Service Board, an employer, counties need more resources so that they can open more facilities and consequently employ more health workers.

At the end of the forum, the participants recommended that the partnership between the AEF and the Counties should be enhanced; that counties can provide opportunity to AEF graduates who can work there as temporary staff; and that induction is key towards setting values and principles and culture at the workplace. They also recommended close engagement with Council of Governors and County Executives in charge of finance to mobilize resources for human resource expansion. The forum also recommended that the list of graduates who are AEF beneficiaries be availed to recruiters.