In December 2023, the ACCESS Training of Trainers (ToT) Workshop took place in Kenya, bringing together representatives from nine local universities and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to address the pressing need for stronger linkages between academia and industry. The workshop, held on the 18 and 19 December at Mount Kenya University, focused on University Business Linkages (UBL) and Career Enhancement (CE) strategies aimed at improving the career readiness of students. The workshop featured various sessions with active participation from all participants.

Training of Trainers participants (Industry and Academia) at Mount Kenya University

Key Focus Areas

The workshop highlighted several critical areas. A significant disconnect exists between university offerings and industry requirements, emphasising the need for structured collaborations to align educational programmes with market needs. Universities must clearly specify the skills and knowledge students should acquire from industry attachments to better prepare them for the workforce.

Challenges in CE

The lack of structured frameworks for UBL and CE programmes is a major hurdle. Insufficient funding and resources for career development initiatives were identified as major obstacles. Slow response times and bureaucratic challenges from both academia and industry hinder progress. Furthermore, graduates often lack the practical skills and real-world experience needed to thrive in their careers.

Training of Trainers participants during round table discussing day 2-Chatting the way forward

Proposed Strategies

To bridge these gaps, the workshop proposed creating clear guidelines for UBL and CE. Establishing centres for CE within universities to coordinate efforts is crucial. Engaging industry partners in curriculum development and training strategies, promoting continuous learning and upskilling, organising regular forums for engagement between academia and industry, and ensuring collaborations provide mutual benefits are also essential strategies.

Lessons Learned

Several important lessons emerged from the discussions. Ongoing and structured engagement between universities and industries is crucial for keeping educational programmes relevant. Implementing well-defined CE programmes helps students gain practical skills. Revising the entrepreneurship curriculum across the participating higher education institutions (HEIs) is essential. Additionally, building strong networks with industry players enhances learning and provides students with real-world insights.


The workshop concluded with actionable recommendations for the participating institutions. Universities should document and promote CE activities and identify industry partners to support these initiatives. Forming ACCESS Student Clubs for undergraduates and reviewing modules for postgraduates can ensure practical experience and industry exposure. Developing a national undergraduate curriculum in entrepreneurship and training faculty and staff on effective industry engagement and UBL strategies are also key recommendations.


The ACCESS ToT Workshop underscored the critical need for stronger linkages between universities and industry to enhance career development for students. By addressing the identified challenges and implementing the proposed strategies, universities can better prepare their graduates for the competitive job market, ensuring they possess the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their careers.

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