Employer feedback over the years has prompted higher education leaders to introspect on their role in preparing graduates for the workforce. A common concern raised by industries is the lack of soft skills among graduates. In response, Kepler College, a private tertiary institution in Rwanda, has established the Kepler Soft Skills Center, focusing on communication, technology competency, and professionalism. The center aims to cultivate punctuality, timely task completion, professional writing, and integrity.

“Before students go for an internship, we give them a maximum of two months of soft skills training using an integrated hands-on curriculum. We have already begun to see the difference it makes, helping them stand out during their industrial attachment,” shared Prof. Baylie Damptie Yeshita, Vice Chancellor at Kepler College. “Consider what it is like to get a driver’s license. Just as you can’t simply get a license without competence or competence without a license, we make sure our graduates are not merely making grades, ticking the boxes, and moving on. They are here for the skills and competence that will set them apart for the job market. Following that analogy, our students take ‘driving lessons’ both for the competence and the license.”

The Kepler Soft Skills Center, piloted in Rwanda and Ethiopia, collaborates with The Education Collaborative to instill transformative change. The collaboration aims to integrate soft skills training into universities, including public institutions, without disrupting existing structures, thereby indirectly improving student employability and faculty development. Since 2021, the partnership has helped expand the program to Rwanda Polytechnic a public institution.

While 700 students in Rwanda and 7,000 in Kenya have benefited from this initiative, ongoing data collection and employer feedback analysis will further refine the program. The long-term goal is to replicate this model in other Sub-Saharan African countries, influencing national policies and garnering support from regulatory bodies.

“This project is a good example of how The Education Collaborative works with institutions in its network to start, scale, or replicate impactful models that accelerate transformation in students and graduates,” added Rose Dodd, Executive Director of The Education Collaborative. “With this project, we’re looking to continue to build data and evidence to establish The Education Collaborative as a thought leader in the employability development of graduates in Sub-Saharan Africa. Public universities enroll the largest percentage of students. If we are truly looking at scale, we need innovative ways to work with the unique structures, contexts, and constraints they operate within.”

Are you a company, organisation or higher education institution interested in equipping students or employees by offering the Kepler’s soft skills training program? Share your details here to express interest.

Explore our Impact Publication to learn more about how The Education Collaborative is driving impact through partnerships.