Acquire additional skills to get an edge in job market, youths told

Young people urged to explore TVET

In Summary
  • Gaitho said supporting the youth to gain the relevant skills to improve their chances of employment.
  • Obath said internships have clear returns for businesses by accessing a large skills pool.
KEPSA Education Sector Board chairman Vincent Gaitho
KEPSA Education Sector Board chairman Vincent Gaitho
Image: John Kamau

Youths in technical colleges have been urged to acquire additional skills such as business management and computer studies to give them an edge in the job market.  

“Pursuing higher learning does not guarantee you a job. You have to fight for a seat at the table. Parents should not shun Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions as they offer skills to help youth navigate job market,” said Nick Odhiambo, a TVET alumnus.

Speaking during a recent virtual meeting held to celebrate this year’s World Youth Skills Day hosted by Egerton University, Odhiambo narrated how he gained his skills through TVET and how he was able to commercialise them.

Echoing the sentiments, Mount Kenya University pro-chancellor Dr Vincent Gaitho urged youth to explore TVET.

“Odhiambo's call for parents and youth to explore TVET as a viable alternative to university education is worth considering. Youth also need to be self-driven and use digital platforms to showcase their products,” he said.

Gaitho said supporting the youth to gain the relevant skills to improve their chances of employment and entrepreneurship is the only way to support development of the economy. “We must be deliberate in creating these opportunities.”

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance Foundation chairman Eng Patrick Obath said the private sector can do more to help youth and the TVET sub-sector in general.

“Without a doubt the collaboration between the institutions and the industry in general will play a significant role in transforming Kenya into an industrialised, middle income country and provide better quality of life for citizens,” he said.

Obath said internships have clear returns for businesses by accessing a large skills pool. He said out of 10 apprentices, a company can get at least two employees who can be absorbed in employment.

Kenya National Qualifications Authority technical services director Stanley Maindi said one of the challenges is the issue of a mismatch between what academia is producing and what the labour market requires.

 “We have continued to have a shortage of relevant skilled manpower to power our economy. The existence of the authority is to ensure there is quality and relevance in what we are offering,” he said.

Davis Waithaka from Elimu holdings said the only way for a carpenter in a village to access 50,000 people is if there’s a strong digital economy. "We have to reimagine the market share and go an extra mile to learn new ways of reaching more people,” he said.

Waithaka said some of the support areas that the private sector can come in include investing in the ICT infrastructure in partnership with government, providing affordable financing and education through provision of the specifications required from the small businesses.

For the government, he said their roles include providing digital infrastructure, providing procurement opportunities and financing or payment frameworks, as well as friendly policies to facilitate entrepreneurship.

 He also emphasised the need for professional career guidance for the youth from a young age on using their skills to generate wealth.

“We need to have a structured engagement, both at the national and even at the county levels, so that we can be able to continuously engage,” Ministry of Education technical education director Tom Mulati said.

KEPSA Education Sector Board vice chairperson Priscilla Kerebi said the TVET sub-sector sits at a unique position since both employers and trainers are part of the board.

 “The board tries to ensure that both perspectives from the demand and supply side of education converge to holistically tackle challenges facing the sector. The sector board advocates for policies that will not only improve the skills-set of our nation but will ensure both students from public and private institutions are optimally trained,” Kerebi said.

-Edited by SKanyara